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  • Michaela Patel


Why do we find it hard to say 'NO' to others?

In short, the answer is: Because saying 'YES' is our forte. Having practiced the same since childhood, we simply cannot cope with the other...

As soon as someone asks a favour from us, our mind gets flooded with the PRO-YES nagging voices: ‘It would be pretty selfish of me to decline! Oh no, I couldn’t live with my conscience if I didn’t help. How would it look like if I refused? What would others think of me?'

The voices of our own needs are quicly silenced by the overhwelming loudness of our guilt and shame...

We have been taught that looking out for ourselves is a bad thing, that it is selfish. Our carers told us how they have always put us first, and that we should be ashamed of placing ourselves at the top of our attention list. Because that would be 'Egotistical' to look after OUR needs, wouldn’t it?

To help anyone who asks is THE reason we don’t debate if our support truly serves its intended purpose: to help another OUT OF his/her situation. Neither we doubt that our giving is out of love.

To get to the heart of the matter, one must question all his/her actions with curiosity and be prepared to view the reality with a completely new set of eyes.

So, are you selfish by saying NO to others? Does your help come from a truly loving place in your heart? Is your 'help' truly helping the other?

When I realised how misplaced was my idea of how a truly loving, freely giving person looks like, I learned about my inner emptiness. I learned how, by endlessly supporting others, I neglected the person who needed my help the most: ME. By agreeing to help others, I overlooked my own needs at a time.

Others seemingly 'need YOUR help'. They will urge you that you are the only one, and if you decline, they will be left without resorces. The thing is, even if they ask YOU for help, the likelihood of others being able to support them better than you are is always there. Particularly, if you are giving from little, or nothing. Yes, SELF-NEGLECT is rampant amonst givers. Their giving comes from an unhealthy place of seeking acceptance and approval, desiring to be recognised for their giving which has always strings attached.

In any case, the most important detail gets almost always overlooked: that the person asking you for help has left the most important person out - themselves. The reasons may vary in person’s mind as to why they need precisely us to be there for them. The bottom line is, however, that they stopped believing in themselves. They need others to be there because they stopped believing that only they are capable to help themselves out of what they have gotten themselves into. And by ‘helping’, we are keeping them prisoners of their own powerlessness. By supporting them, we often support their idea of them being incapable, unsuited. By offering them THE TEMPORARY ADVANTAGE they ask for, they are likely to remain disadvantaged by their circumstances. They will continue to suffer by OUR hand, whilst keeping their own hands tied up, asking us to tie yet another 'helpful’ knot, keeping their misery going...

From an addict begging us for a spare change on the street, to a friend sharing his/her suicidal thoughts because of his/her relationship ending, the intensity of how others ask for attention varies. And with it, the intensity of our own emotions...

It is understandably upsetting for anyone with a healthy dose of empathy, even more stressful for those who rank at its top end. We want to ease their suffering, their pain... OUR pain. It is indeed very tempting to give what they ask for us to feel at ease, to relieve our discomfort and lighten our conscience...

Facing another's needs, we forget our own in a hot flash of being put on the spot, standing in front of the worst judge we know - OURSELVES.

'But what have I done to be sentenced? And why do I suddenly suffer all this guilt?'

Those are the questions you don’t stand a chance of asking yourself in the heat of a moment. And you don’t ask the most important question of this equation either: ‘How am I really helping him/her long term?’ Because your help may well be just A VERY SHORT TERM FIX without a hint of a loving intention, but rather a pursuit of your own, momentary peace of mind.

Now, isn't THAT selfish?

Thank you for reading. If my article contributed to understanding yourself, please be generous and share it with others.

Copyright © 2018 Michaela Patel

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