Recently when a family member that I love very much invited me to visit for a special occasion on short notice, I had to decline. It was hard. I wish I could clone at times, but I already had commitments and my body is dictating rest on a regular basis right now. So I was honest, and had to make peace with the fact that I am only one person and I've got a calling that requires me to prioritize self care so I can continue my service with integrity and joy.
As always God has plans. I had already been getting the inclination to schedule a visit later in the year, when I'll have the ability to spend a little more time visiting, and hopefully have more time to be well rested. We're exploring that option now, and I trust when God thinks it is right for all of us, I'll be there.
I was born and bred a people-pleaser as many of us were. Many of us were raised in an era where we got in trouble when we didn't please those training us! That was just the way children were taught way back when. Most of us, happily, are learning that pleasing others is only beautiful when genuine.
I can't tell you how many times Jesus has appeared in my readings for perfectly sweet people who are exhausting themselves taking care of everyone else's needs while neglecting their own well being. With exquisite tenderness, He asks them, "When are you going to get off the cross? I already did that for humanity."
Here are a few tips to help you be more authentic when the "program to please" starts to usurp your heart's natural inclinations and guidance.
1. Give yourself time to tune in
When someone makes a request tell them you'll get back to them in a little bit. Give yourself the gift of at least a few minutes to look at your schedule, to check in with your heart, and to become clear on whether or not it feels right to say yes or no. Even a few minutes can afford you the opportunity to come from your truth, rather than a pre-programmed sense of duty, a habit of people pleasing, or a fear of inspiring displeasure.
2. Whatever your answer is, convey it with love, be honest, & avoid excuses
If you have to decline an invitation or a request, do so lovingly and don't make excuses. Be honest and kind. If you have to say no because you need more rest, be honest. If you have to say no because you don't feel like going, just simply say you are not up for the event right now. Find kind words, but don't lie and make excuses. People sense this dishonest energy and often fear the reason you are saying no is worse than it is!
While it is uncomfortable to disappoint someone, you will ultimately be doing you both a favor. If you say yes to something you don't want to do, you will not bring a loving attitude into the interaction, you will drain your energy dreading it, and you will likely be upset at some point in the process. The temporary discomfort of honesty is always better than the prolonged agony of even a well-intentioned lie.
3. The flip side is we must accept others' "yes"es and "no"s
Once we start accepting our own "yes"es and "no"s we have to promise ourselves that we will grant others the same courtesy. Not everyone will want to do everything you want them to. Avoid making them or yourself wrong. If someone can't help you today, perhaps they can tomorrow... or perhaps God has better plans.
So this week try to be more real, more authentic, and more lovingly honest with yourself and others. In time it becomes easier and it will free up huge amounts of energy!