Why Can’t I Say—NO? Part 1
If you are still questioning whether you are a people pleaser, here are a few questions that might help. Do you:
- Avoid conflict at all costs?
- Feel guilty saying no?
- Have a sense dread, fear, or anger if not in control of a situation?
- Hear yourself saying, “It’s not really that bad” or “I’m the reason this happens”?
- Fear retaliation or removal of love if you say no?
- Walk on “eggshells,” even in your own home?
- Think submission means ignoring or tolerating destructive behavior?
- Allow people to speak to you a disrespectful manner?
- Make excuses for the rude and offensive behavior of others?
- Isolate or fear what people think of you?
- Refuse to discuss problems or deny help?
- Take on the responsibility for someone who is irresponsible or negligent?
- Try to control others with a feeling of superiority, or treat your spouse like a child?
- Distort God’s teaching about love and mercy into ignoring sin?
If you checked more than three, don’t be discouraged. If God taught me, the queen of people pleasing, how to overcome the enabling monster, He is capable to do the same for others.
Let’s get started. Here are some first steps toward overcoming the plague of enabling, people pleasing, and codependency.
- Fess UP! I had to acknowledge, “Laura, you are an enabler.” When I finally surrendered and admitted that I had a problem, dare I say an addiction, to rescuing others my identity came under attack. The strangulating tentacles of enabling weren’t going down without a fight. This was war.
- Find a New Identity-Rescuing and fixing others was the one thing that I thought I did well. After I discovered the destructive survival techniques it was difficult to let them go. If fixing people was no longer my role, my purpose, my significance, then—who am I?
- Discover the Root– I had to pray HARD, that God would show me how this perverted thinking began. I knew digging down to the WHY held the key. Resources such as Healing for Damaged Emotions by David Seamans, and The Search for Significance were the tools God used to help me discover how the madness began.
- Discovery- It’s About Me– Enabling looks and feels as though it’s helping another, but in reality it’s selfish. I’m a people pleaser because it meets a need in me, or I wouldn’t keep doing it.
- Fear Factor– Codependency and fear are siblings. Typically they go hand in hand and feed off of each other. The need to please, and always be in control of a situation, is rooted in anxiety, fear and dread. It doesn’t look like it because people pleasers are masterful at mask.
- Truth– What I thought were acts of compassion were the opposite. Isn’t it merciful to shield a loved one from suffering discomfort? Often the answer is no. Sometimes the most loving thing I can do for another person is to allow them to suffer a consequence when they make a sinful or poor choice. Pain is often the channel that spurs someone to make the right choice.
Our human nature often resists to “see the light” until our face is so deep into yuck of the mud that we can’t breathe. The Bible clarifies, “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word. You are good, and what you do is good; teach me your decrees. It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.” Psalm 119:67-68, 71
Do you hear the psalmist say, “It was good” for him to suffer affliction? That’s because it’s the pain that brought him to his senses. This triggered him to turn the destructive choices into prudent ones. In other words he shifted from foolishness to wisdom.
Many of us need professional help to overcome codependency. I did. The patterns were so embedded in my mind that I needed an objective, professional to help me walk out of the web. Don’t hesitate, there is no shame in seeking assistance. Your church may have a list of those who specialize in codependency.
Joining a support group geared toward overcoming hurts, habits and hang-ups is a fabulous way to find help. I suggest www.CelebrateRecovery.org
If you find that enabling has resulted in a destructive relationship or marriage, I highly recommend the site and resources, by Leslie Vernick. If you wish to hear my audio CD on the subject it’s linked to the image.
Copyright © 2016 Laura Petherbridge. All rights reserved.
Laura Petherbridge is an international author and speaker who serves couples and single adults with topics on stepfamilies, relationships, divorce prevention, and divorce recovery. She is the author of When “I Do” Becomes “I Don’t”—Practical Steps for Healing During Separation and Divorce, The Smart Stepmom, co-authored with Ron Deal, 101 Tips for the Smart Stepmom and Quiet Moments for the Stepmom Soul. Her website is www.TheSmartStepmom.com