saying and hearing "no" doesn't have to feel horrible
*First published via email on Monday, February 4, 2019. Click here to subscribe.
A few months ago, Melo (my boyfriend, if you have just met me) and I were having a tough time - we were both going through a ton of stress. He was studying for his board exam and I was feeling very lost and anxious about my business and financial situation.
Because we were both home all day, I kept interrupting him whenever I needed support, expecting him to drop what he was doing and listen and provide that support. He had a hard time saying no right away, so he usually cut me off mid-sentence to say, "Babe, I need to get back to what I was doing."
Ohhh boy, you can imagine how mad and hurt I felt during those times! My thoughts always went to, "He never wants to support me! He only cares about himself! I can't be in a relationship like this!"
Sheesh and thanks, Jess' ego.
Melo was more tactful and considerate than I was (probably - definitely? - because he hated the way I interrupted him). He would knock on my door and ask if he could come in and talk to me. Because he wasn't really opening up to me about his stresses then, and I had/have hard-core martyr syndrome, I always said yes. But I had shit to do, too! So I would do my best to listen, but I always felt an internal battle of, "I should give him this support because he never does. Yay! he wants it now, so I should give it to him!" and "fuck, I've got shit to do! If I have to hear one more time about how stressed out he is about his stupid boards....!!"
Again, thanks and sheesh, ego.
So needless to say, this created a lot of hurt feelings and upset on both sides, and eventually, we just stopped talking to each other.
When we finally decided to sit down and talk things out, we realized that both of us were craving real connection and support from one another, but it never seemed like the right time.
So we decided to implement something Melo dubbed our weekly "pow wow"s. We emotionally prepared to set aside an intentional hour every Tuesday and Saturday evening to sit and really connect with each other with an open mind and heart. We used that hour to share our own celebrations and worries and listen with love to the other person. In the coaching space, some people call this "setting up a safe container for each other."
For me, these hours were times for me to practice helping my ego feel safe, supported, and listened to so I could show up and support Melo as my inner self. I don't know if Melo would use the same words, but I think he felt the same. :)
And these pow wows changed everything!
One big thing I learned from doing these pow wows is how to ask for support instead of demanding or expecting it. In my family growing up, my dad has always made himself 1000% available to my mother and her requests/demands. My dad always said that that's how real men should behave. I grew up expecting my relationships to be the same.
After doing the pow wows with Melo, I got used to asking on Tuesdays and Saturdays, "It's 9pm, are you ready?" and learned how to ask for these safe containers at other times during the week.
It also helped me to feel better whenever I heard, "no." I usually feel hurt and rejected whenever I hear no. But now, I understand no as a "later" instead of a "never." It still takes some time for me to shift my thinking (i.e. when I ask for a safe container to share something and Melo says no, I still feel hurt - and that's OK!), but now I am able to eventually shift my thinking from "He never has time for me" to "He will support me later when he can do so intentionally."
Aaaanndd guess what?
After saying no, Melo ALWAYS came up to say he's ready and to ask me if it was a good time for me as well. And when I say yes, he ends up giving me the BEST support I could have ever asked for. The support he gives me when he's ready is 100000 times better than any other time he's given me support. I mean, it's all eyes on me, asking if I need a hug, rubbing my back, and I know his heart is on providing for me and loving on me. It's the best.
And in turn, seeing HIS example (seriously, guys, MELO is the one who should be coaching, not me!) I am also better able to say no. Because I know that if I say no now, I get to provide the BEST SUPPORT ever when I'm ready and it will mean SO MUCH MORE to Melo or anyone else I am supporting.
This week's podcast episode is ALL ABOUT saying NO or sharing any other boundaries gracefully, kindly, and lovingly. It's all about realizing that saying no sometimes is the best thing you can do to support someone. And it's the best thing you can do to support YOURSELF.
I hope you enjoy the episode, and as always, I'd love to hear from you. Do you have a hard time saying or hearing no?
With a ton of love and gratitude,
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