Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Blogging for Wellbeing: Week Two, Day Two

You are the only you will ever be. This is the only life you will ever have. And it’s a blink, in the grand scheme of things. You are a firefly. An eyelash. The briefest moment in a great span of time.

This is both terrifying and absolutely liberating.

Believing that you are not as worthy as others, that your needs don’t count…it’s not only untrue, it’s incredibly damaging and destructive, and it tarnishes the time you do have to live, to love, to be, to enjoy. I have been in that place, I have believed that my ideas and opinions count for nothing, that I, essentially, count for nothing. If someone else needed something, I would give my time, my money, my heart. I would sacrifice whatever was necessary to make sure that person’s needs were met. And yet when it is was me who needed something, I felt a cold fury with myself: how dare I make demands, how dare I think I deserved, how dare I be so weak as to need.

It is heartbreaking to realise in the wake of an eating disorder just how much time and energy you wasted. How many times you said yes when you wanted to say no, and then took whatever resentment you felt afterwards out on yourself. How many times you said no when you wanted to say yes and then cried because you felt trapped and alone.

Even when you have begun to get your head around the fact that your own needs do matter, it can be difficult to work out what’s what. When is it a compromise and when is it unhealthy self-sacrifice? When should you say no instead of giving up your time automatically…and how do you say no without injuring someone else’s feelings, without feeling bad yourself?

I don’t have all the answers. I do know that achieving this balance comes with practice and commitment. If you have a gut-feeling that it would be better for you to say no in a particular instance, then go with that instinct. It’s not easy, especially when the request comes from someone you love who wants help with something, or for you to go with them somewhere. But in the long-run you will be contributing more to the relationship as a whole and healthy person in charge of her own life than you will as a doormat.

And don’t feel that you can’t be honest about your reasons for saying no. I used to be the world’s worst culprit for accepting invitations left, right and centre and then inventing an excuse last minute because I really didn’t want to go. This frustrated friends more than my initial refusal would have done and they started to think of me as unreliable and flaky when actually I was just nervous and afraid. Now, I will say that I’m not sure rather nodding and beaming when in fact I feel like doing the exact opposite. And I have spoken about the issue with my closest friends, so now they know that when I cancel last-minute (which I do much less frequently these days) there’s usually something bigger going on and it’s not just that I can’t be bothered.

So. In conclusion. You ARE deserving. And you CAN say no. And that DOESN’T make you ‘bad’ or ‘selfish’. Maintaining boundaries and parameters is just as important as opening up and letting people in. It’s learning what to do when that’s the tricky part…and the only way to learn is through trial and error and lots and lots of practice J


  1. What great advice you give Cheryl! I have come to realise saying yes to other people all the time only makes you feel burdened and zapped and with not near enough time or energy for your own needs. It's not good.
    I've learned to say a big resounding 'YES' to myself when my gut (and heart) says so and it really does shift the energy patterns. It's our duty to ourselves!
    I don't know if you've ever heard of SoulCollage - it's a collage form based on self-awareness. I say this because I made a card there recently on saying yes to the self. It's a great process - very uplifting and self-affirming. The website is www.soulcollage.com if you're curious!

  2. Firstly, I love the quote! My fellow quote queen :)

    I know very well how not to say no, and how to find myself at the last minute, in a complete panic attack, figuring out how to get myself out of what I agreed to do in the first place. Always with the best of intentions do I say yes to others, and always in the end I end up regretting it, cause it means stomping on my own needs once again.

    Thanks again for an awesome and thought provoking post Cheryl!

  3. Siobhan - thank you SO MUCH for the link! I am besotted already and can't wait to go and buy card and glue and paper at the weekend (I have already started collecting photos :) Seriously, this is right up my street - creativity, art, thinking in a different sort of way...I love it!!! Do you post photos of your cards anywhere? I may post some photos on here when I've done a few xxx

  4. Violeta, thank you so much for your lovely comments (as always!)

    I'm really enjoying this blogging challenge, reading about other people's experiences, reflecting my own. It's a treasure.

  5. So glad you liked it! I've just read your empowerment post - and soul collage is an excellent means of empowerment. Yes, do post the cards you make!! I'd love to see them! It really is so rewarding, and doesn't require artistic skills, just a willingness.
    I have some of mine on Facebook - www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.141915285914094.24029.100002868713695&type=3&l=f5fecb243b -and scatter the odd one on a blog post here and there. (my most recent post on 'Solitude' has one)
    Let me know how you progress with it!!! :)