How comfortable are you with anger?
What if you are the one who has hurt someone’s feelings or angered or disappointed them?
How far would you go to avoid the uncomfortable feelings that come with causing anger, disappointment or hurt feelings in others?
Far enough to say say ‘yes’ to request after request after request when everything inside you is screaming, ‘NO?’
One of the resources listed at the end of this month’s chapter in Cheryl Richardson’s book, The Art of Extreme Self-Care, has a great title by Nanette Gartrell that perfectly encapsulates what goes on for many women as they try to set boundaries on their time and energy.
My Answer is No . . . If that’s Okay With You.
It seems that many of us have such a need to be liked, such a need to be a good girl, that we will override what is good for us in order to comply with somebody else’s requests.
Cheryl Richardson was given an assignment by her life coach to make one person angry every day for an entire month. When I read that, my first thought was “Oh, God. Please don’t let that be our assignment this month.”
Fortunately, that’s not the exact assignment, but pretty darn close. Cheryl says, Over the next 30 days, become a master at using your voice. Your goal is to get comfortable with disappointing people, facing conflict, dealing with anger, and realizing the possibility that you might hurt someone’s feelings. Use what you learned in this chapter to handle requests in a healthier way. Then each time you decline a request, use the experience as a leaning opportunity by writing about it in your . . . journal.
Fortunately, Cheryl gives three very helpful guidelines for turning down requests. They are much more elegant than the “I don’t want to” that so delighted me here.
1. Buy some time by saying you need to think about it. Tell them up front that there’s a possibility you will not be able to help them out. This lets them know that they need to consider other options.
2. Do a gut check. Is this request something that you would really like to do? Even if it’s not something you are thrilled to take part in, are you consciously doing it in order to show your love and support for someone or strengthen a relationship? If so, say ‘yes.’ If, however, you are only considering the needs/wants of the petitioner, and especially if you are worried that they might be angry if you say ‘no,’ that’s a clear signal that you need to be declining.
3. Tell the truth directly–with grace and love. This, too, has three components.
a. Express your regret honestly, without overexplaining. Resist the urge to soften things with wishy-washy tag-ons like, “if something changes, I’ll let you know” or “if you’re really stuck, I’ll see what I can do.”
b. Tell the truth simply in one or two sentences. Period.
c. If (and only if) you have an ethical responsibility in a particular situation, ask how you can help them get the support they need. This would include times when you have to back out of a commitment mid-stream or realized you just can’t do something after you’ve already said you would. (Which is why buying time and doing the gut check is imperative right from the start.)
As always, I’m only providing a summary here. I highly recommend that you get your hands on a copy of Cheryl’s book so you can read the full chapter for yourself. She suggests scripts for some specific scenarios that I’m sure many of us can relate to.
So all you Extreme Self-Care Afficiandos, muster your resolve this month.
And good luck with the N word.