This has nothing to do with being a nice person and everything to do with boundaries.
For years, I too believed that if I didn’t say yes to everything, I was missing out. That someone wouldn’t like me, that I wouldn’t be seen as a helpful or kind human being. That in order to succeed I had to take every opportunity that presented itself, even if I knew from the start that it wasn’t what I wanted at all.
I, probably like many of you, had the leakiest boundaries in existence. Perhaps that’s not even the right phrasing, because in order for boundaries to be leaky, they have to exist in the first place. I’m not sure I even knew what a boundary was until I started exploring inner work and finding mentors like Rising Woman and Mark Groves.
If you were also raised to be a people pleaser, you know exactly what I mean. At some point when I was very young, I learned that the only way to find love and validation was to make sure that my caretakers were always happy with me and that I adjusted to every mood shift. That meant no boundaries at all. That meant not standing up for myself or what I needed. That meant saying yes to everything anyone asked of me so that I kept them satisfied and happy at the cost of my own peace.
As an adult, what does that look like? Overcommitment.
And overcommitment does you no good. You aren’t really helping anyone by saying yes to everything, because you end up burnt out and resentful. You can’t give anything your full effort and attention because you are doing too much. Besides that, you end up with no time to replenish and restore yourself – which should actually be your top priority, but which you’ve put last for so long that you don’t even consider it most of the time.
So, there’s a lot of retraining to be done here, right? First of all, learning to take into consideration what you need, day by day and even moment to moment. When you commit, do you feel joyful about it? Is it a fuck yes, or are you doing it because you feel like you should or it looks good if you do? If you are unsure if you have the time or energy to add one more task to the list, then guess what – you probably don’t. That’s your body speaking to you gently, telling you to slow down – and your brain is ignoring it. Also consider whether you have the time, with all these commitments, to make space to fill your own cup.
Then start to practice saying no. It won’t feel good at first, and you might get some negative reactions. After all, everyone around you is accustomed to draining your energy for their own benefit. I’m not saying they’re all doing so on purpose – you have to take responsibility for what you’ve allowed to happen in your own life. Whether you like it or not, you are in control of your decisions, and you’ve been deciding to say yes to everything. Now you have to retrain yourself – and them – to understand and respect your limits.
The more you say no, the better it will feel – because YOU will feel better. You’ll have more energy and you will be in control of your life in a way you’ve never experienced before. When you take responsibility for the fact that you overcommit, understand why you do, and then adjust your behavioral patterns, it brings your power back. Feeling your own power return to you is quite a beautiful and rejuvenating sensation. I know you want to feel better, and strong within yourself, and you can get there.
I love you. I believe in your ability to set boundaries, take care of yourself, and say no when something doesn’t feel right. You are capable of changing your relationship with boundaries, commitment, and people-pleasing behavior. You’ve got this.