Why Does Saying “No” Make Me Feel So Riddled With Anxiety?
I finally had enough a few days ago. I threw my hands up and I cried the kind of cry that can only come from the depths of a troubled soul and then I hit my knees and asked what, what it was I needed to do to stop feeling the way that I did. I felt like I was being twisted every which way and that the pressure of life was squashing me straight into the ground.
I'm a consummate people pleaser and know full well that I've made a habit of taking on too much but it’s because I don’t want to be that person who lets anyone down. So, whenever someone asks if I can help with “just one small thing,” or if I can just "take one little minute to chat" when I'm in the middle of doing something, I always smile and say, “sure!” even though I know that "one small thing" or "one little minute" will be anything but and that it will throw my entire day off by a massive amount.
I'd been bottling up my stress inside until I got to the point where my chest felt so heavy and I was literally finding it hard to breathe. I knew that if I didn't address the mess I'd stepped into, I would end up blowing up at the wrong person at the wrong time.
So, I said, "no" and it killed me, but I said no. I said no to the request to do a simple task that could easily be done by someone else. I said no to being interrupted during my son's birthday weekend. I said no to a long phone call with a friend. I know it didn't make me very popular, but still, I said "no," and to me, that's a big deal.
I woke this morning filled with dread at having to face the people I said no to and my brain churned with ideas of how I could go above and beyond to make up for saying no to them, but then I realized how counterproductive that would in this quest of mine to alleviate some of my stress and how pathetic I was for thinking that I needed to justify saying no.
Even though I'm trying to be all big and bad, it's still sitting there in the back of my head that I said no and may have rubbed a couple of someones the wrong way. I don't have tough skin when it comes to feeling like I'm letting others down but I'm also sometimes too dense to see that others are stepping on me like I'm just some front doormat because they know I'll be their trusty go-to-girl and will do whatever they ask because I don't want to disappoint them.
Just typing this has caused that familiar slow burn of anxiety to spread across my belly and when I swallow, my throat is dry. I am so afraid, but of what? Of someone else having to figure out something simple on their own? Of looking bad? I'm sure that some of the people I've worked so hard to please have said unsavory things about me, so does it really matter? Of not being the strong, capable woman others expect me to be? Even stainless steel will weaken and break if exposed to enough stress, so why wouldn't I? And a small part of me wonders if my mind is just making this out to be a bigger deal than others see it to be. That my friend is the pleasure of living with constant anxiety.
If you're someone I've said no to recently and you're upset with me, please don't take it personally. Please know how hard it was for me to utter that one single word and in reality, what a huge accomplishment it was for me to say it. Please understand that I won't always say no to everything, that this is only temporary and something that I have to do for myself. I have to lower the stress in my life and I have to punch back against the anxiety that holds me tightly day and night, robbing me of sleep and of happiness. Saying no is something that I have to do for myself so that I can be a better wife, mother, daughter, friend, and co-worker.