As she stared into his deep brown eyes, she heard, “but if you really loved me, you would help this one last time.” She knows she does love him, but she also knows she can’t help. Not even one more time. He would only use the money to get drunk again. To help would be to allow more pain and damage and eventually the damage can’t be repaired.
That is the all too common struggle of the family of the alcoholic, drug addict, gambler, chronic liar, thief, betrayer, manipulator, etc. Why does loving someone sometimes mean such pain? Where is the line between toleration of others and you’ve gone too far? Continue reading →
We only want to feel good. This is one of the reasons that we say ‘Yes’ to things that we really shouldn’t. When was the last time this happened?:
You’re getting ready for your day. You finally found time to take care of that list of things that you’ve been putting off. You actually feel energized because you are already feeling productive. You hear your phone. It’s that one person who is always asking for favors and sapping your energy. “Don’t answer it”, you say. But you do. Car trouble, yadda yadda, errand, yadda yadda, has to be today, yadda yadda, and before you know it, your plans are ruined. You’ve just said yes to something that: 1) you don’t have time for, 2) is not a real emergency, 3) is for someone who has not shown real appreciation in years and exhausts you, and 4) is not something YOU are the only one who can handle.
Yeah, then you start having belly issues, or headaches, or joint pain, or an increase of any other symptom you have. What has REALLY happened here? It is all about picking your freedom and setting HEALTHY boundaries. It is not a matter of not loving this person. Sometimes it is because we love them too much, or maybe we only feel that they care for us if we do things for them.
How does that turn into feeling badly? Well, our inner self knows what we need and what we are capable of. And this part of us lets us know if we are making healthy choices or if we are acting in an unhealthy way. So, in the example above, you just made a decision that you know is wrong for you. How? As you hang up the phone (or even during the conversation) what are you saying to yourself? Not again! I don’t have time to help! You make me feel so guilty if I don’t drop everything to care for your stuff! It’s never just one thing, I’ll end up spending the whole day and not get one item on my list taken care of! Why can’t I just say NO and mean it?
When this happens, our body does a couple of things. We internalize the stress and pain. So this is why we start to have physical symptoms especially headaches and belly aches. We also start punishing ourselves by making other unhealthy choices. We don’t exercise, we don’t eat well, we pick up cigarettes or alcohol, or sugar, or whatever. And because we have said YES instead of NO, we don’t think we deserve to take care of ourselves. How wrong that thought process is! And how damaging it is physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
So, what went wrong and what can we do to change our choices?
When we say YES to something, we are also saying NO to something. If we know a certain food makes our belly upset, we can say YES to eating it, but that means saying NO to a happy belly. If we say YES to a happy belly, we have to say NO to that food. This principle applies to everything in life. Unfortunately, not every decision has such clear distinctions between the YES and NO. We have to consciously set values and boundaries for everything. Do I value a happy belly more than I value the taste of this food, or the value of accepting what’s offered to me by my loved one? In the example above, what are the values? What value do you put on helping a friend or family member? Or on feeling needed or appreciated? What is the value of accomplishing needed tasks, or not having to rush through your day? Or how important is peace of mind and a good night’s rest?
These are all things that we need to consider. It is REALLY hard to answer these things while in the middle of a conversation with someone who is trying to push us into a direction that THEY want for us. So what can you do? Say these words: I’ll have to get back to you. Say them again: I’ll have to get back to you. OUT LOUD! I’ll have to get back to you. Practice this. Then use it when you are in a position where you have to make a choice and you need a moment to set your values and boundaries and pick what you will say YES to and what you will say NO to.
The next step is to acknowledge the difficulty of the choice. If you don’t, you will continue to hear those voices in your head about how unfair it is, or how thoughtless that person is, and on an on. By acknowledging the thoughts and emotions of the situation, you validate them. Once you do that, force yourself to move on to find the solution and make a choice. Don’t linger on the acknowledgement step. It becomes too easy to stop here, not make a choice, and blame the other person. That is also an unhealthy choice. Choose to take control and set your own choices and direction.
Then, list the values on each choice. Write them down if you have to. And spend a few minutes listing the values that may not be as obvious. For example, this food calms me down. Comfort food, yes! But is is really satisfying? Were you hungry for food? Or possibly for something else like love, attention, comfort from someone else, escape from something? If I eat it and I am really trying to fill another kind of void, will I feel emptier than I do now? Is there another option that will be more filling and satisfying. Not as easy to see these things, and harder to accurately value the choice without acknowledging them.
One important thing to recognize is that there are lots of options to every decision. You can say YES to all, NO to all, or any number of combinations of both. So acknowledge that even the ridiculous is a choice. Maybe not a healthy option, but it IS an option.
Now, make a choice. It helps to let others know what that choice is. This would be the point to call that person back and let them know what you have decided. The first few times you do this, you will feel inclined to explain the whole process including the WHY. This is not necessary. A brief explanation is sufficient in most cases. And STAND BY OUR CHOICE. At first you will feel selfish, uncaring, and bad. Remember that by consciously making choices you are actually showing more love and care for both you and the others involved.
A few final thoughts to remember:
1) You will falter in this process. Don’t beat yourself up over it. We all fail at times. It’s okay. Accept that you faltered and give yourself the honor of asking where the process fell apart and why. This will help next time.
2) It’s okay to change your mind. Once you’ve made your choice, you an change it. But if you do, recognize that YOU are the one that chose to adjust. Take responsibility for it. And accept the consequences of the new decision WITHOUT blaming others or being unkind to yourself. There is a wonderful amount of power and peace in this process.
3) There are certain times when we consciously allow someone else to make a decision for us. We choose to give them this power and control. If your spouse is the one that takes care of the finances, they may be the one to have final say over large purchases. If you decided they have that responsibility, you are choosing to accept their choices in this matter. Acknowledge and accept this boundary you have set.
We just want to be healthy and happy. By choosing when to say YES and when to say NO, we can choose inner peace and strength.
Written by: Julia Rodgers, HHC 2013/07/16 12:10pm
Need help with this process or another health or lifestyle issue? Send me a note @ email@example.com