My disease is cunning. Left to my own devices, I will say yes when I want to say no or should say no because it’s a request for rescuing. I will over-commit or resent, either way, somebody is not going to be happy (besides me). Saying no seemed mean or disrespectful. What I learned was saying yes could be all that and more to my own sense of well–being and compromise other commitments I already had made. I always felt guilty.
My recovery began with learning how to NOT COMMIT until I had reasonable to time to really decipher what was being asked of me. Sometimes I have to make choices, doing it all is not a choice if I want serenity in my life. Stall tactics such as “Don’t respond right away”, go into the “Oh-zone” and “buy time” all helped me learn to pause. I had to do this in the beginning because I was in a foreign land, unable to think or speak the language of recovery. What was really happening? I was beginning to form healthy and realistic boundaries.
I kept it simple: If my motive was to be liked, or I hoped I could manipulate an outcome, then I’d be in trouble. If my motive was to control, I was in trouble. If my motive was fear, I was in trouble. I picked up new language that progressed:
- That won’t work for me.
- I don’t do well in those settings.
- I’m not able to devote the time you need.
- Not at this time.
- Perhaps another time.
- I’m out on this one.
- I will do this (something but not all) “meet halfway”
- I have to think about it, can you contact me in x days?
- I love you so I won’t.
- No thanks.