Over the years I’ve discovered that life moves us through various traumatic stages that have a beginning and end. The purpose of these stages is to help us grow and learn. Although each stage may vary in length and intensity of issues, and level of disruption to our lives, each stage contains a main theme that runs throughout. Which is the driving force and pivotal learning point of our experience, that if recognised and adhered to, will enable us to improve our personality, life and future.
And if we look for the bigger picture of humanity, by also looking inwardly at issues of friends and family, we may recognise how our central theme of that time is theirs too. This mirroring acts as confirmation that we are indeed a global society on a global journey of learning, that can affect us all!
I’ve always been able to identify the different stages of my life, and see the opening and closing of each stage. Recently I recognised that another traumatic stage of my life had completed. I felt relieved as I acknowledged how hard I’d been finding life for some time, and hoped the universe would allow me a resting stage to re-gather my strength and positivity before I faced the next step. But we can’t control some aspects of our growth, only learn to attend to them as soon as we can, in order to reduce discomfort and suffering caused because of them. So, when troublesome events started to present themselves to me – along with rising discomforts, I quickly started to search for the meaning hidden behind them.
I’d been struggling to meet obligations I’d imposed upon myself, that catered for other’s needs, and put my life on hold because I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to focus on my issues. I realised this attitude meant I stayed stuck in the quagmire of frustration, anger, resentment, despondency and despair, that was hidden beneath my compassionate acts. But I’d become so embroiled in pushing myself to cope with family problems that felt overwhelming, that I’d closed my awareness off to my own needs, because I couldn’t cope with them as well as all the other things I had to do.
Self-denial and detachment crept in, but I didn’t acknowledge it because my needs were too much for me to cope with!
It was only when I received two requests for favours, one after the other from separate people, that truth finally hit me! Initially when I refused their requests I started to beat myself up, as usual when I think I’m letting someone down. But once I straightened my thinking out, I allowed my indignance to guide me to what I needed to see more clearly.
I had to allow myself to stomp my feet (mentally not physically)and admit I didn’t want to commit my time and attention to helping anyone at the moment. I had no energy left for me, as even though I did have some spare time, I wasn’t using it to replenish my energies or develop my business, because I felt so tired. Yet even after all the self-development work I’d done, I still felt guilty about saying no! So, ‘What was this all about?’ I asked myself!
I learned about assertiveness years ago. I understand it well, and believe me when I boldly say that I try to use my assertiveness power as and when it’s needed! So why was this ‘NO’ issue rising again? What was I missing?
Looking back over recent events and the predicament I felt I was in, I could see that saying ‘No’ was not just about refusing requests from others. It was also about self-control, like saying ‘NO’ to the bars of chocolate I’d been consuming to quell my tiredness and despondency, and ‘No’ to the voices in my head that told me I deserved to have them. It was about refusing to allow myself to beat me up any more for what I wasn’t doing, for what I had or hadn’t done! It was about stopping myself from striving to meet my own and others unrealistic expectations of what can be achieved in limiting circumstances, and stopping to rest when I required respite.
It was about seeing how I’d taken on responsibility that I couldn’t cope with! I was trying to make things easier and better for others. But though there were unavoidable tasks I had to perform, did I have to do SO much? Did I have to do ‘EVERYTHING I COULD TO MAKE LIFE EASIER FOR OTHERS, AT THE EXPENSE OF MY OWN LIFE AND HEALTH?’
Why had I not seen, after all my experiences and traumatic times, that whilst I can support people in times of trouble, I cannot fix their lives – especially if I neglect my own? And why did I keep on trying so hard to protect other people from their life-changing problems?
Thus I realised how hard I’d been pushing myself. And how much of myself I’d been denying! No wonder I felt miserable, anxious and worried all the time! Didn’t I realise how our problems help us develop new skills. Didn’t I know that facing our fear makes us stronger and wiser? Of course I did, I’m a counselling therapist! But did I really think I had to step in because my loved ones were so fragile, and they would die if faced with problems they felt they couldn’t handle? Yes I did actually! A fear caused by past experiences that left their imprint upon my subconscious mind, which infiltrated my logic and distorted the reality of what is! This is being dealt with now!
There are many who say if you reach for the stars you will touch them. But we have to account for the fact that physical, mental and emotional needs will stop us in our track, if they are not met. And environmental and universal influences will negatively affect our energy when we are low, by making us feel more tired, listless and depressed.
If we feel overwhelmed it’s okay to ask for help! But if we don’t give ourselves what we need to survive, no-one else will. Everyone these days is trying to cope with their own stuff! Meaning no one can help fix us, unless we take the time and make the effort to try to fix ourselves first!
‘NO’ is such a short sound. But it has a huge meaning! ‘No’ can save our lives and protect us, but it can also keep us confined in our stagnating comfort zone! Saying ‘No’ means we can stand up for what we believe is right and proper. But it can also promote our rebelliousness, that causes harm to ourselves or others! Sometimes we say ‘No’ when we mean ‘Yes’ and vice versa, so if we want to get what we want and need, we have to ensure we say what we really mean.
I’ve decided to put my needs on par with others, for a time anyway, as I realise this is my life, with one chance to enjoy the benefits of being who I am. Most importantly I’ve eventually accepted that it’s no good being a good Samaritan, if it kills you in the process. Or use external substances to cope with painful emotions and life, but which destroy physical health!
So often we lose ourselves within our problems. But regardless of how hard we try to avoid them, problems will keep rearing their ugliness at us. But if we don’t learn to say ‘No’ to things that will harm us, we will never be happy, healthy and fulfilled.
Learning to say ‘No’ means we can stand up and say …‘ I know what I need and make sure I get it’! And even though it might take a bit of practice to get the ‘No’ in the right place at the right time, saying ‘No’ will enable us to regain our confidence, because we are aware that whilst we may not be able to escape the trials and tribulations that life throws at us, we know we always have the power to choose how we deal with situations, and our reactive, needy self!
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