Last week a friend of mine asked me for a favor, and I said “No.” Then I immediately went into convulsions because my body was in complete shock from having uttered such a foreign word.
I’m kidding about the convulsions. (Sort of.) As you might have inferred, I don’t like saying “No” to people. I’d so much rather say “Yes.”
I admit to being a people pleaser, I am far more comfortable when everybody else is happy. And from 38 years of experience I can assure you that people are more pleased and happy when you tell them “Sure, I can watch your kids and/or dog for a couple of hours. Or a couple of days. Whatever, no biggie,” than when you say, “Sorry, I’m booked.”
It’s not that I’m secretly trying to win people’s affection by doing things for them. It’s just that…..well…..I’m secretly trying to win people’s affection by doing things for them. <Hangs head in shame.>
Here’s another confession: I like being the person who saves the day for other people. It makes me feel powerful and in control, kind of like how Oprah must feel. My whole house can be falling apart, my children crying, my husband disgruntled, but if I am helping someone out in the midst of all this chaos? Then strangely, I feel like a success.
You see, when you are doing something for someone else you don’t feel like you are the one hanging at the end of your rope, needing to be rescued. My mantra has always been that it was much better to be the helper than the person who needs the help.
As you can see, all of my unselfish acts of service carry within them a small seed of selfishness.
It’s only been recently that I’ve realized these hidden truths about myself. (We lie best when we lie to ourselves, and I’m a pretty good liar.) Additionally, I have come to realize that I can’t keep continuing down this path of helping everybody else except for myself and my own family.
I need to say “No” more often. I need to put my family first. I need to admit I can’t do it all and then some. I need to remember that the people who are really matter won’t stop being my friend when I can’t do something for them. Most of all, I need to remind myself that I can be a good, kind person and still have limits.
And until I fully learn this lesson I’m probably going to have to stop answering the phone.