By: Natalie Cooney
Crap, I did it again. I said yes to too many things and now I am paying for it. A few weeks ago I was asked to be second in command at an Easter carnival AND then to also lead worship for 3 services the following day. I SAID YES. TO BOTH.
Being a 150% kind of person has its blessings and its curses. You are extremely reliable, hard-working and you usually feel wonderful when someone asks you to do things like be second in command or be upfront on the biggest holiday in the church calendar. Of course I felt wonderful…for like 5 minutes. Don’t get me wrong, I love being involved, in serving and being transformed by the process, but I don’t believe I should say yes every time.
I thought I’d finally discovered what it meant to choose my health over the happiness of others. I thought I was done with trying to resolve my own inadequacies and perfectionism by being everyone’s go-to person, but the ridiculous stomachache and fever that also showed up that weekend, begged to differ. Clearly it’s still an issue. I made myself sick and exhausted, and now my tank is empty for the people who are closest to me.
I have always been a yes person, to everyone but myself. I have spent countless hours (…years) pursuing approval & the satisfaction of others because that’s what felt good. I learned very quickly to avoid the discomfort & potential of rejection that came with saying “no” by becoming good at a lot of things. All of that “yes”-ing gave me a sense of control over others and my well-being. Someone needed a swim coach, check, a yoga instructor, check, a team captain, check, a dependable friend, check, a new perspective, check….and the list goes on.
I have learned and am still re-learning that pursuing success & flattery, heroism & achievement, can really bite you in the ass. A frantic rhythm of life causes us to lose access to our truest self. We get stuck overriding ourselves, living in hyper-drive and can’t imagine life without it. When we try to slow down, we feel tremendous shame and guilt. Trying so hard to please everyone and feel significant that we lose sight of the essence of who we are. We lose the ability to live fully alive.
Slowing things down, resting, re-assess our surroundings, is incredibly uncomfortable. But we desperately need it. We need to lean into what our deepest and most truest self is saying and begin to tolerate that ick that comes with saying, “I can’t”.
I have been trying to lean into that uncomfortable rest state for a long time now and it is getting easier. I actually am beginning to feel more alive when I go there. I often feel relief now, like I have more space and energy to be fully present for the things & people that matter.
Fear keeps us on the go, holds us back and keeps us from acknowledging our innermost, truest self but it doesn’t actually take us anywhere.
We need rest. We need to put the breaks on once in a while. In rest, we say yes to our deeper self, yes to finally nurturing the parts of us that have gone un-nurtured, yes to being fully present, fully alive, right here, right now.
I’m practicing everyday, trying and sometimes failing, but I’m making progress.
If you need the opportunity to slow down a bit and practice taking care of yourself, come to the workshop “Just Breathe” happening this Saturday!