Saturday, June 23, 2012

I Need to Learn How to Say "No."

Cary Grant is accurately telling my problem what it can do. (And for the record, I found this GIF on tumblr and, therefore, do not own it.)

I have a problem. I can't say "no" when someone asks me to do something for them. This would not be a problem if people didn't take advantage of this fact... and I'm noticing it happening more and more often. Let's start at the beginning, shall we?

For as long as I can remember, I have been unable to say "no" when asked for a favor... unless it's illegal or immoral. My parents (and especially my mother) taught me to help others even if it means giving up some things. Usually this means that I have to let go of any selfish wants and think about how much the other person needs help with what it asked. Sometimes this causes me to spread myself very thin because so many people ask me for favors at the same time. My inability to say "no" can cause me stress because of this reason. 

While I don't mind helping people, some of them can become quite demanding and/or have gotten used to me doing their dirty work for them. In more extreme (and sad) cases, I've noticed that people have started to manipulate my feelings in order to get me to do what they want. This caused me to post a rant on Facebook which said: "I love guilt trips when I say I can't do something because I've very lightheaded and dizzy... and anxious. Please, make me feel like I'm a horrible person for not wanting to risk my life driving a car when I clearly cannot." When I realized how immature and snotty that sounded, I added: "Sorry for the rant. I love you guys but, seriously, I already feel bad enough that my anxiety is making me cancel plans and these guilt trips are not appreciated. Unless you have this darn condition, you don't understand how frustrating and debilitating this thing can be." I won't go into what caused this reaction but let's just say it's been accumulating over time.

Though some of my friends joke about it, I am not superwoman. I can't do everything for everyone all the time. When I am having a bad anxiety day (which is becoming more and more frequent, much to my annoyance), I have to cancel plans because I never know how long the anxiety will last. I am going through a lot of things in my private life (things that would surprise people) and all of that amps my anxiety... which makes it harder for me to make or keep plans. I can totally see where my friends and family come from when they get upset but I can also see that a lot of things that are asked me of are asked because they simply don't want to do it themselves.

Of course, my Facebook rant (despite it being childish on my part) has truth behind it. People have learned that they can easily guilt trip me into doing things... and they use this technique... quite often. They know that I immediately feel bad that I can't do something for them and they start playing what therapists would call the "victim card" to manipulate my feelings. When I realize that this happens, I get angry at both the person doing it and then at myself... followed by feelings of guilt for not doing it. It's an endless cycle in which I rarely "win." Today, as I drove (crying because I was having bad anxiety no less) to a meeting location (even though I had called the person ahead of time, telling them that I couldn't make it because it's never a good idea to drive while anxious and dizzy), I decided that it was time to change.

I don't want to stop helping people but I feel like I'm hurting myself for not learning how to say no. Not only that, I have to learn how to not let those guilt trips affect me as bad. I'm sensitive so it comes with the territory but I'm also tired of feeling bad. Like I said, I see where they come from but I've been told by both doctors and priests that I need to start taking care of myself. A confessor once told me that I've lived my life for others -- taking care of my parents, friends, strangers -- but that I neglect myself in the process. And he's right; I do. 

My new spiritual director told me that I need to start spending more time in front of the tabernacle (or the crucifix in front of my bed when I can't make it to church for some quiet solo time) because I need to let go negative feelings as well as to get a better understanding on what God wants me to do. If I want to beat this anxiety, I need to do this. I need to learn how to take care of myself so I can be of better use to God. To God I will never say "no" but to those who take advantage of me, I need to learn to be stronger.

Anyway, just wanted to share this because I have a feeling there are more people in this "can't say 'no'" boat than they want to admit.

I have the apartment to myself for a couple of hours so I'm going to enjoy the peace and quiet... and spend some time in front of my crucifix since I really don't want to go out again until I have to pick up my mom from work.

I hope you all have a great, blessed weekend. :)

As always, thanks for reading and God bless. :D

OH! P.S. I'm starting the Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati novena again this Monday so if you want to join in, let me know. :D

1 comment:

Joe Potillor said...

I'm in with you :)....Prayers and Love from Idaho...