I’m jist a girl who cain’t say no,
I’m in a turrible fix
I always say “come on, le’s go”
Jist when I orta say nix!
This song, sung by the character Ado Annie Carnes in the musical Oklahoma, seems to capture how hard it is to say “No.” In this case, she has a problem saying no to men.
Well, I don’t exactly have that problem. But I have other problems.
I am a “people please-er”. I care about what others think. It bothers me if they get upset when I say no. I try to avoid conflict at all costs. I do hope I am getting better at saying no, but at the end of the day I am one of those “nice” people who smile and say yes, even though I really should be saying no.
Liesel Teversham is the author of “No Problem! The Upside of Saying No.” I first met Liesel at an EFT training course. The course was led by herself and Laurie, and you can read more about their EFT training academy here, which is based where I live, in Johannesburg, South Africa.
In any case, Liesel and Laurie have quite distinctive personalities, and I immediately picked up that Liesel has a similar personality to me. She is also so sweet, nice and willing to please. It should come as no surprise then, that saying no would be an issue for her, but she chose to deal with it in a very creative way by crafting an extensive self-help book on the subject.
Liesel starts her book off by examining why it is so hard to say no.
There are several false beliefs that support one continuing to say yes when we actually want to say no. Being liked is one (a big one for me). Not acknowledging your own needs is another (yip, me again). Avoiding conflict? (yes, that would be me).
Another reason it is so hard is that we tend to be driven by our subconscious as a reaction to life rather than a conscious creation of life. The subconscious is often programmed early in life.
The tool she uses to deal with this problem is EFT. EFT stands for Emotional Freedom Technique, which is basically acupuncture without the needles. You tap on various points while saying affirmations. I’m not going to go into all the details of how it works, you can read a fuller explanation here.
The point is that saying no often invokes fear, and the negative reaction to fear (the flight/ flight/ freeze response) is initiated by the amygdala, a portion of your brain. EFT is especially suited to working with fear. Energy work can unblock the emotions and give you more choice. The key is to be very specific with the events behind your fears, and as you work with more and more of these kinds of fear inducing situations, you will find that you are able to cope better.
Liesel also lists some key factors that will make a difference in understanding why saying no is a problem.
I liked what she said about boundaries because I think having respect for yourself means that you will have limits on how much of yourself you will give. She shared a really memorable story about how a lady friend took advantage of her by rescheduling her tea on her birthday, shouted at her, and then continued with the tea date for three hours!
She also mentions the Enneagram (a system of personalities) which has taught me a lot about myself (I’m a Four) and highlights which personalities are more prone to this problem. (You can read an article I wrote on counselling a woman who was also a Four, using the Enneagram, here).
Liesel highlights the importance of childhood and past events with reference to Erikson’s stages of development. I studied these years ago during my Psychology degree, but of course it takes on a whole new meaning when I have a living toddler in front of me! Infants in the first year must learn to trust. Toddlers (2-3) are all about having control and independence. They are learning to think for themselves and discover what they need. This makes a lot of sense to me because Nicky really likes to be in control (e.g. reading a book: he must hold it), and gets very upset if you won’t let him do what he wants. This is where you really need to work on your re-directing skills! Preschool is all about “Why?” and finding purpose. School (6-11) is about creating initiative leading towards competence, learning skills of their culture. Adolescence is about finding your identity. If your developmental needs were not met during any of these stages, it definitely affects you. Being aware of where your problems lie gives you a starting point to tap on relevant issues.
If all of this is sounding like a tall order, it is rather reassuring to hear that change happens in small steps. Liesel breaks the action plan down into manageable chunks and provides tapping scripts to motivate you along the way.
On top of that she also gives ideas on what to say when you want to say no, and even how to say no when you’ve already said yes, again providing a relevant example.
All in all this is a valuable, jam packed, full of information self help book that will inspire and give you lots of ideas to think about.
I also liked this quote which comes from her book:
“I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.” Bill Cosby.
If you’re visiting from Liesel’s book tour, welcome! Please have a look around my blog. If you’re interested in EFT, I have a whole lot of scripts for various issues in my shopping cart.
Visit her book blog to check out the full schedule for the Virtual Book Tour at http://www.no-problem-book.com/index.php/book-tour, and receive a free 10 lesson e-Course to accompany the book, available on Amazon (see link at the top).
Liesel is a coach, trainer and speaker who help professional women to implement guilt-free self-care strategies in private sessions and groups.