You can probably think of a few times you’ve said yes to something you didn’t want. For most of us, it was hardwired in our upbringing to be receptive to other people’s needs and that sacrificing for the good of others is a virtue to be sought after and admired. So when the boss hands you an extra task at 4:45 PM and you know it’ll take at least one hour to finish, you say “It’s no problem,” even though what you really want and ought to say is, “I deserve to get paid overtime for this.” When a friend asks you to take her to a party you know you’re not going to enjoy, you say yes, because you don’t want to seem unsupportive. Sometimes it’s as simple as saying you like a color that you don’t and the next thing you know you’re living in a house with orange curtains and you’re wondering, “How did I get here?”
Through the door of fear, people-pleasing, lack of self-knowledge and self-mastery…The list goes on. Saying no can sometimes be difficult, especially when you are afraid of rejection or abandonment. You can find yourself agreeing to a restaurant choice because you’re afraid that your own choice may be disapproved. If at any point you were a teacher’s pet or a parent’s favorite, you may have learned that people who don’t challenge authority are rewarded with favor and may have become dependent on that form of validation.
In attempting to avoid suffering, you inflict it upon yourself because there is no greater suffering than to betray one’s own soul, denying your own needs, ignoring your values and beliefs and suppressing your feelings in order to cave in to another’s. It’s is a painful, lonely road that only leads you deeper into the loss of yourself. You become numb to your own feelings, detached from all the things that make you, you; and worst of all, you know you have only yourself to blame.
Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second’s encounter with God and with eternity.
– Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
So how do you stop betraying yourself and begin embracing the happiness you deserve free of fear and inhibitions?
When you slip up and let yourself back into old, toxic patterns of thinking, forgive yourself before you try to fix yourself.
― Vironika Tugaleva
Sometimes I find it’s easier to forgive others than to forgive myself when I’ve let myself down. The dissonance that results from self-betrayal is hard to swallow, but even more challenging, is forgiving yourself when you know that you’re responsible for that turbulence. Nonetheless, show yourself the same grace you would show someone else if they did you wrong. It’ll take time, but once you begin putting yourself first, a new world of happiness will open itself up to you.
Be honest with yourself and others
Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
― Oscar Wilde
Be honest about your feelings. Don’t say “I’m fine” when you’re not okay with how things are. Don’t wait for other people to prod you. Speak for yourself and do it boldly. Be unafraid to voice your needs, preferences, opinions and ideas.
Stand up for yourself
Fear nothing but your conscience.
― Suzy Kassem
Resist the urge to let slights and disrespect slide, just to seem cool. Set standards for how you deserve to be treated and accept nothing less. Respect yourself and allow only those who can do the same into your life.
Get to know yourself
It is in solitude and silence that we learn most about ourselves. In those precious moments, undisturbed by the comings and goings of the world, we are able to develop a sense of our legitimate needs, our deepest desires, and our talents and abilities.
– Matthew Kelly
Take a little time every day for introspection to learn about yourself – your values, goals, preferences – and write lists, lists are your friend. Do this often as we are constantly changing and evolving.
Face your fears
There is love in holding and there is love in letting go.
― Elizabeth Berg
Life is phases. Get used to the idea of people coming in and out of your life. Read about how to transcend the sting of rejection here.2