This is the third in a series of posts exploring what it means to be a Sexy + Soul-full woman. You can read the first post here. Enjoy!
After listening to my client bemoan her bulging schedule and her ever-shrinking bandwidth, I spotted a pattern. She was always saying ‘yes.’ To every request, no matter how irrelevant to her goals or how far outside her interests, she acquiesced to them all. When we explored what lurked behind her agreements, it became clear that she wanted not just to be pleasing and accommodating, but she also feared hurting someone’s feelings or making them angry by refusing their request. Her unwillingness to say ‘no’ was driving her to exhaustion; she was over-committed and unable to keep her promises–a situation that was decidedly displeasing to those whose requests fell through the cracks.
The Sexy + Soul-full woman knows that it’s worth risking someone’s displeasure when they hear her ‘no,’ over attempting to please everyone by constantly saying ‘yes.’ Acquiring the ability to risk and, occasionally weather, being displeasing is a key skill that marks the passage into a stage of wisdom for Sexy + Soul-full women. This wisdom comes from discernment and the willingness to say ‘no’ with love and courage.
Discernment is the process of weighing options, not just according to possible risk or potential payoff, but also against spiritual criteria. This sort of spiritual discernment relies on feelings and intuition rather than solely consulting the intellect. The Sexy + Soul-full woman uses her gut (as well as the rest of her body) as a reliable compass to point to her inclinations and possible courses of action. Looking for subtle, persistent, and consistent leanings toward a particular direction, she distrusts flashy fantasies about fantastical outcomes.
“We are all conduits for a great and creative energy,” writes Julia Cameron, “that seeks expression in us and through us. When we yearn to be different, it’s not just our restless ego. It is our accurate response to the creative energy within us that is seeking a venue for expression.” Knowing this, the Sexy + Soul-full woman focuses her attention on callings, yearnings, and insights. She follows her heart’s leanings and trusts her soul’s whispers.
It is her ability ability to recognize when a ‘yes’ isn’t appropriate that gives her the courage to speak an unambiguous ‘no.’ A ‘yes’ spoken out from an out-of-control desire to please or a misplaced fear of being displeasing reeks of lack of conviction. When a woman is fearfully or tearfully accommodating, her commitments waver like the mirages they are. The unwitting people-pleaser is led farther and farther into a desert of littered with her broken promises. There is nothing for her there in that parched, empty landscape but dust.
When speaking her clear, unambiguous ‘no,’ the Sexy + Soul-full woman uses her core strengths. She doesn’t squirm or quail, she needs no excuses nor apologies. She says ‘no’ firmly and with compassion. Her compassion springs from the understanding that ‘no’ can be hard to hear and unpleasant to bear–she has heard her own share of ‘no’s’ so she delivers a ‘no’ with kindness. She is firm to communicate that her ‘no’ is real and has strength behind it. She may receive arguments from the recipient of her ‘no’ but the Sexy + Soul-full woman can stand on her ‘no’ and make it stick. She shall not be moved when she doesn’t wish to be.
Ultimately, what this willingness to risk displeasing others by saying ‘no’ with love and courage does is communicate the commitment to being reliable. The Sexy + Soul-full woman knows that trust is the basis of all relationships. Broken promises damage, and eventually destroy, trust and relationships along with it. To be worthy of trust, her ‘yes’ must mean, truly ‘yes.’ By reserving her ‘yes’ for what she knows she can and will do, she both gains her own confidence in her ability to follow through as well as earns the trust and respect of those around her. That trust and respect yields much greater credibility and standing that people pleasing can ever do.
What have you learned about people-pleasing? When have you said ‘no’ with love and courage? Share your stories in the comments below.