I talk a lot about how saying ‘yes’ to yourself sometimes means saying ‘no’ to others. Now let’s consider that ways in which saying ‘no’ to others can also mean saying ‘no’ to yourself. I’ve been thinking about how my social anxieties and insecurities have often made me a no-(wo)man a lot of my life. For the most part I feel my ‘no’s’ have been good for me – it’s a way of asserting boundaries and giving myself a break when I’m overwhelmed. However, I’ve come to realize that many of my ‘no’ moments have also held me back.
Several months ago I started taking martial arts classes. In the spring I started a part time job. Together they’ve flooded me with more new people in my life than I’ve had since ending my career as a social worker. For someone who thrives in one-on-one interactions, this has been very jarring. These events seemed to really stir the pot, bringing forth all of my deeply buried insecurities and wounds I haven’t yet fully healed from. Everyday they simmer just below the surface and boil over at least once per day. I’m exhausted.
A few weeks ago the clouds cleared a little and I found some clarity. I had the opportunity to learn a new technique in class. The first time my instructor offered to teach me, my self-doubting convinced me to make an I’m-not-ready face. She decided not to push me and I missed the opportunity. A couple days later she decided to push me to learn. Inside I was excited, but externally I feigned hesitation because OF COURSE I DON’T WANT TO SEEM TOO EAGER. I got scolded for it in front of everyone. That’s when I realized I was a no-woman and I needed to do something about it.
The two main things I began to break down from this incident are: 1) thinking I’m not good enough or deserving of, and 2) that being (and coming across) too eager makes me look dumb and weak and super uncool.
Feeding these insecurities and anxieties have held me back in so many ways. I think about all the opportunities I passed on. I realized I was living a lie because deep down I DO know that I’m good enough and I AM excited about these things. Why can’t I let people know that, in fact, I DO I think I’m good enough and YES, I WANT THAT OPPORTUNITY? Why can’t I let myself fully feel my nerdy excitement jump up and down for 5 minutes because that’s the way I truly feel?
It was strange, but freeing…like a foggy burden had been lifted from my body. If just the mere awareness of my actions makes me feel this way, just think about what it will be like as I continue to work through it. Saying ‘no’ can be still a vital part of self-care, but don’t forget the most important focus: saying ‘yes’ to yourself.
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Courtney Ginn is a certified Reiki Practitioner in Sacramento, CA. She combines her Usui and Practical (Kundalini) Reiki training with various modalities to create personalized sessions for her human and animal clients alike.
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