Today's post is a guest post by author Liesel Teversham. Liesel kindly shares with us the story behind her book No Problem: The Upside of Saying No. It's a pleasure to have her here. I like her from her very first sentence.
I’d like to thank Karen for graciously hosting me on her beautiful site for authors, as part of my 14-day virtual book tour.
I’ve always been a “helper.” Some would even call me a “rescuer.” I used to feel quite proud of this label. When I look back now, I smile. Actually, maybe it’s more of a painful grimace.
You see, people who help others are often rewarded for their heroic efforts with love and affection, approval and …. even more requests for help! People tend to sniff out those who enjoy helping, pleasing and making others happy. I don’t know if we have a distinctive aroma or a stamp across our foreheads saying “Ask me – I’ll help!” or some other crazy identifier.
Thing is – it does get exhausting after 40 years of putting ourselves last with no end in sight.
A few years ago, late one afternoon, I had a mini-breakdown. I was up to my eyeballs in setting up a new business with a dear colleague and business partner. What was on my plate that day? Let me see… Building a business website by myself, doing the accounting (which I had no knowledge of), setting up workshops, taking bookings, creating manuals, replying to a gazillion emails, trying to make appointments with my own private clients, admin tasks. The list goes on.
Something small broke the camel’s back that afternoon. I was already in tears of exhaustion, resentment and feeling like a complete victim when my colleague asked, “Liesel, who gave you all this work?”
A moment of silence. And then admittedly the most unpleasant feeling arose in my gut. It wasn’t possible anymore to ignore the fact that I had volunteered for every last item. I never asked my partner for any help. I kept suffering silently, hoping she would somehow sense that I could not do it all on my own and come to my rescue, or at least applaud my efforts. I had volunteered for most of the work because of my technical background as a computer programmer. I nobly thought I’d do us both a favor by doing it all.
That simple question shocked me, stopped me in my tracks and to this day I’m grateful for it. It undeniably made me face one of my strongest, most automatic patterns: volunteering and not being discerning with what I allowed on my plate.
Things didn’t change much immediately. Yes, I took a few things off my plate that day, for a short while. Many crept back silently and I still didn’t ask for help or change my pattern of “overdoing” in order to save someone else from doing it. I was so used to over-responsibility for everyone that I simply had no idea how to change it. And that’s where my learning had to start – learning different strategies and ways to approach life that includes self-care and taking paying attention to my own needs too.
I started an intense journey to investigate my own behavior, and since I’d been looking for a topic to write about for a number of years, this honest look at my own inner drivers became a book.
A huge part of taking on too much and feeling overwhelmed and exhausted stems from not being able to say “no” to requests. I uncovered 15 of the most common reasons why people find it hard to decline a request for help. While these are the most common, keep in mind they’re true to different degrees for different people. None of them are “the absolute truth” – they just FEEL true to some of us and therefore influence our behavior!
1. I want people to like/love/approve of me – and if I say no, I’m scared that person will withdraw their love.
2. I’m afraid that if I say no, conflict will ensue – and I run a mile when there’s conflict.
3. I don’t want to disappoint or hurt anyone – and therefore I’ll just say yes to everyone else and harm myself in the process.
4. I’ll be called “selfish” – and no-one likes a selfish person. So I’ll keep right on being selfless and get applauded for my giving nature. Until I give out.
5. It doesn’t feel like I have a choice. Simply because they asked, I have to say yes.
6. Other people’s needs are more important than my own needs. They come first. I can have what’s left.
7. There is only one possible plan available for the requester – and that plan necessarily involves me.
8. If I don’t help, who will? I’m a rescuer and see people “in need” everywhere.
9. It looks “good” to be busy. The busier I am, the more important I must surely be?
10. The other person’s urgency needs to be mine, too. So I’ll upset my own plans because the other person didn’t plan carefully. After all, no-one can do it as well as I can.
As you can see, if you read through the list, none of these are inherently “the truth”. However, many of them feel true when we’re a “Giver”, “Helper”, “Rescuer” or some other label that tells people that we love to sacrifice our free time (what’s that?), money or energy to help others.
Fortunately, I found some solutions to this annoying and exhausting habit! I found how to change this pattern for myself so that I can lead a healthy, balanced life. A life where I can take my own needs into consideration before blindly agreeing to every single request because I’m trying to avoid the “selfish” label.
I found brilliant tools to relieve the stress of saying “no” (Emotional Freedom Techniques), 24 ways to say “no” kindly without actually having to say the “n” word. I found personality types that are more prone to this behavior, and how to create change gently in small, manageable steps.
If this topic interests you, I’d love to welcome you to a journey of joy towards healthy self-care and stopping the destructive cycle of putting yourself last in the queue!
Liesel Teversham (B. Mus Hons) is the author of No Problem: The Upside of Saying No. It is a guidebook for those who are overwhelmed, exhausted and resentful and never have a moment for themselves.
Visit her book blog and see the full schedule for her Virtual Book Tour and receive exciting free gifts, including a free 10 lesson e-Course to accompany the book, available on Amazon.
Liesel is a coach, trainer and speaker helping professional women to implement guilt-free self-care strategies.
Stay In Touch
To hear about new releases, freebies, special offers and discounts.