The Hardest Word for Me to Say

yes-or-noYesterday was my day to meet with my coach.  It was my first day with this particular coach, and I wasn’t sure what to expect.  But she was great.  I’m looking forward to working with her.

The first thing she asked me was what I’d like to achieve over the next year.  That was easy.  I’m a list-making, double-checking, plan-creating, obsessively-organizing, detail-oriented human being if there ever was one. So I proudly told her that I have my one year and five year plans all written out and I know exactly what I want to achieve.  I rattled off what I want to accomplish this coming month, what I want to accomplish over the next six months, where I want to be at the end of 2017, and where I go after that.  “Great!”, she says.  “Sounds like you know exactly what you want to do!”

BUT THEN she asks me (coaches are known for asking questions that require one to
squirm…it’s what we do!) “What usually keeps you from achieving what you set out to do? What’s usually your biggest obstacle?”  GULP!!!  It was just as easy for me to come up with a quick answer to that question as it was to come up with one for the first – but not nearly as fun.  I explained that the biggest problem I have is that I love to help people.  That’s why I love my job.  I love making a difference in the lives of those I come in contact with. The downside to that is that I get wrapped up in helping everyone else, at my own expense.  I end up giving so much that I have nothing left for myself.  And I only stop when I have nothing else left to give…and that usually means I’m not in the place that my current plan intended me to be.  So my coach, of course, says “Well, ok.  Give an example.”  Unfortunately, that one was easy to answer as well, but also no fun.  At least five things came to mind that I have done over the past week that cost me big.  “Now mind you,” I tell her,  “I am glad I was able to do them, and to help my friends, but the problem is that now I am unable to do what I need to do in order to reach my own goals.  At least not right now. It just put me behind a few months.  At least I HOPE I get back on track!”  She was quiet for a moment, then asked me how long I’ve been doing this.  I told her that it’s my personality, and that I have been that way for as long as I can remember.  I enjoy nodoing for others.  And I feel really guilty if I have to say no.  I’ve been labeled a “mother hen”.  But I do it to the point that it takes up time I should be spending on myself or my business, and it takes up finances that should be used for other things.  I get so wrapped up at times with taking care of other peoples’ problems that it derails my own life.

Well, she’s my coach.  Doesn’t take a genius to figure out I have a weakness here!  It’s not like I don’t know it…just need a little help putting it into perspective and doing something healthy about it. That’s why I have a coach. But her response, for some reason, really seemed powerful.

Her response was this:

“If it’s happening to them, it’s intended for them.  The problem was intended for them, not you.”

It took a minute to sink in.  But the truth of the matter is that when I look back at my life, it’s true.  I look at my strengths, and I realize I developed them through my tough times.  I learned and grew through them.  And I’m glad I went through most of them.  So what she said had some very profound truth to it.  If I’m always saving people from discomfort or trouble, I inherit their problems, and deprive them of the opportunity to learn from their struggles.  Interesting.  Doesn’t make it any easier to say no, but it’s food for thought.

But here’s the deal.  I AM the kind of person that likes to help others.  That’s not a bad thing.  In fact, I like who I am.  However, we have many facets to our personalities, and all of them can be good or bad.  If I’m a quiet person, that can be good, unless I’m TOO quiet.  If I’m a strong person, that can be good or bad, depending on how I utilize that strength. This is no different.  It’s a wonderful personality trait, as long as I use it in a healthy way and use wisdom.  If not, it can continuously put me in tough positions.  It can effect many aspects of my life – my business, my time, my self esteem.  It can lead to bitterness and resentment.  It’s not healthy.  So, I need to practice saying “no”.  “No” is a complete sentence…that’s another pearl of wisdom my coach threw my way yesterday.

The bottom line is this:  Once my coach got me to look at my future and how my actions were affecting it, how my actions were keeping me from reaching my goals and making my visions become a reality, it has given me a whole new perspective on what I’m doing.  That doesn’t mean I will never help another person – far from it!  I love helping others.  That’s why I’m a coach.  But like everything else, I need to do it in a healthy way, and in a way that allows me to be successful so that I can help more peopleno-hand.

We all have weaknesses.  Saying “no” is mine.  Yours may be that you are afraid to admit you need help.  Or you are too shy.  It’s possible you don’t trust others easily.  Maybe you have a hard time keeping yourself from shopping.  What is yours?  Do you need help dealing with it?  If not,  what is your secret to overcoming it?  I’d love to hear your story!

Cynthia McIntosh
Success Coach – Highway 2 Success

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