Saying yes when we want to say no is a sure sign that guilt is making that decision for us. Whether we're trying to lessen guilt we already feel, or avoid guilt we're afraid of feeling, we've now set aside our own desires, goals and needs.
To avoid the self-destructive cycle of guilt and resentment , here is the four-step formula I use when someone makes a request:
- Pause – I let the person know that I have to give it some thought. If they insist on knowing immediately, I say the answer has to be no until I have more time to consider it.
- Listen – I quiet my mind and tune into my body to make a spiritual connection and hear my intuitive voice. I also try to imagine doing whatever the thing is. Did doing this thing give me energy or drain my energy? I may also get messages from my "gut" or feel something in my throat.
- Listen more (if needed) – If I'm still not clear about what the right answer is for me, I will take more time to reflect, usually by writing in my journal. I may also discuss the situation with supportive family, friends or one of my therapist colleagues.
- Respond and let go – I return to the person and give my answer. Once I've made my decision, I have to trust what I felt in that moment and avoid second-guessing myself. If I said no, I let go of any mind reading or projecting what the other person may think. Otherwise, I end up being just as much of a slave to the situation as if I'd said yes. If I did say yes, I proceed to carry out the action with a spirit of love, generosity and service.
This process can be a lot quicker than it sounds, and it will get faster the more you do it and the more you learn to trust yourself.
The next time someone makes a request for your time, energy, money or attention, try this four-step process.