The Power of Saying No… To Know Yourself

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“Know thyself.” -Socrates

People don’t like to hear the word “no”. Even at a young age, rebellion wells up in our hearts as temper tantrums echo through the isles of the grocery store when mama says, “no cookies today”. It’s a natural reaction for us because our sinful nature is natural for us to indulge in. Because of the negative reaction people have to the word no, people pleasers and those with dreadfully low self-esteem tend to always say “yes” even when it drains the very life out of them day after day, decision after decision. I was one of those people. My answers to questions were never truly my own, they were always what I perceived was expected from me. I wanted to be who people wanted me to be; I was a chameleon who adapted to my environment and the personalities around me instead of discovering my own. Some things were good, but they weren’t ME. This blanketed my entire life: preferences, beliefs, responses, and actions. So here I am at 30 years old, not knowing who I am, what I want, or where I want to go in life. Well, at least I was….

Recently, I had the revelation that the reason I often don’t have a strong opinion on things, or even a distinctive style of dress or décor is because I have never really discovered what those things are without saying “yes” to others opinions and influences. WHAT?! Talk about a early-mid-life crisis! Thankfully, I have a husband who isn’t afraid of change and is truly unconditionally loving and accepting of me. We are now both on a journey of adventure and excitement to discover who we are at our core; who we were created to be.

The thing about learning about ourselves and transforming to someone who is authentic, it means that we have to say “no” to things, people, preferences, opinions and actions that we have previously subscribed to. We have to say “no” to the false identity that we have possibly claimed for our entire lives. Let me say…. there will be some pushback from people in your life. Those intense personalities that unknowingly (or knowingly) have monopolized your decisions and personality time after time. They will be confused and revolt at the “new you” and may label you with discriptors such as: unpredictable, changed, crazy, wild, or selfish. Don’t believe them, you deserve your own identity that you were created to display. It’s hard to feel like you are the rebel for being authentic, it’s hard to feel like you’re losing it when really your discovering your own mind. It’s hard to say “no” to the old ways of being because of the expections of others….. but man, there is some serious POWER IN SAYING “NO”! Every time that I have taken a moment to reflect on what I truly think, feel, and want instead of just allowing my knee-jerk reaction of being a people pleaser, I have felt that power as well as peace. It’s not that the opinion of others is wrong, they’re just not always MINE. The good news is that some people who love you unconditionally will not be offended by your transformation, they will be excited for it. Those people will be excited for this adventure and honored to be part of it.

To learn about myself, I’ve had to also make space for the transformation. When a caterpillar is getting ready to become a butterfly, they establish a safe space to do so in their cocoon. For me this looks like only letting certain people into my mind and heart to support me along this journey. It means, saying “no” to many roles and responsibilities that although they may be good, they are not what I am called to or they are not a space that I can be truthful and authentic.

What are ways that perhaps your identity and purpose has been squelched or shamed? Maybe this is the first time you’ve examined the possibility of this. I encourage you to fearlessly unpack that (sorry, the therapist is coming out in me) and decide what parts of your current personality is the people pleasing you, or the authentic you. There’s no shame in this journey, only truthful examination. We can do this! YOU can do this. Find your tribe and have fun discovering the beautiful masterpiece you were created to be!

“Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you; before you were born I set you apart…” Jeremiah 1:5 (NIV)

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