If you say “yes” is it really “yes”, or maybe “no”? Do you say what you think or say what others expect you to say? Are you able to say “no” if somebody asks for your help?
Welcome to my next episode.Listen to “04 – Yes or now?” on Spreaker.
This is the podcast 8 Minutes to Success. I’m Kinga Panufnik and I invite you to spend the next 8 minutes with me.
On my way to success I’ve learnt a lot from others. That is why I’ d like to share my personal experience with you.
It is quite famous expression “to be assertive”. I learned this long ago, when I was in high school (it was long ago, believe me J). There was a workshop for teenagers to train them on how to say “no”. A group of psychologists taught us, I mean us – teens, how to take care of our boundary line and refuse things like alcohol or drugs. For young people, this is a very crucial aspect especially when acting under pressure from their peers. Nobody wants to be excluded, thrown out from a group.
I remember I had a friend at that time who started taking some drugs, and I wanted to help him. I shared this with one of the psychologists during that event, I asked her what I can do to help this friend. She strongly advised me not to take this responsibility on my shoulders. There were adults who should be able to help him. This is their role, not mine. She said that I should take care of myself and learn how to say ”no” to people.
High school time is over for me, and I have been learning how to be assertive for a long time. However recently I saw how difficult it is to protect yourself from manipulation, which is very often unconscious, in terms of helping others.
I live in a society in which helping people is glorified. Many people like to be seen as helpers. Organizations donate money to charities in return for having their logo displayed. Helping others has become a way of creating an image of oneself. If I help people everybody will accept me, If I refuse to help people may see me as a selfish pig, and then I will be judged, accused and excluded. Unfortunately, we follow such social behaviour.
In an emergency situation a person doesn’t think a lot, we instinctively help people to save their lives. We engage all available tools to help a person who is in danger. It doesn’t matter if this person is a relative. In an emergency situation people will make a special effort to help others. If this is not the life threatening situation we tend not to make the same kind of effort.
There are some people around us who expect to be the center of attention. This may be because of their difficulties or the situations they are in for example a disease, losing their job, splitting up with their partner and they believe this gives them the right to expect permanent help from certain people. Usually, from those who find it difficult to say “no”. Because how do you say “no” to such a desperate person, that you are not going to give yourself, your time, your focus, your energy, your money to somebody in need even though they can probably organize help for themselves in different way. They want it from us.
Even worse when it happens in a group – in a family or at work. One person spontaneously announces – let’s collect money for Christopher for his surgery, or for the one holiday in his life. Very often this happens behind that person’s back. Maybe among potential contributors there are people who are not well-off and can’t afford it, but they don’t want to show this.
How do you solve this problem, how do you stand up straight and say I will not help. Without feeling guilty and justifying yourself to others.
I think I came to my understanding of what it is to be assertive – the skill, the ability which is very difficult in practice especially during a very emotional situation. When somebody asks me directly for help and I feel I am not being manipulated and that the situation is clear I enter it with an open heart.
However, when I feel that I am a subject of unconscious manipulation either by a person who needs help or by another person who wants to involve me in the their help (very often to impress the people around them) my body and my soul need an assertive approach and I refuse to take part in it. I am not always successful though. If I fail I feel I’ve let myself down.
I can also see how much I am forced to be involved in manipulative help while shopping. Instead of a certain price I am told if I buy something 1$ goes to charity. I have been looking at such situations for a long time and I feel that if a business person really wants to help from their heart (I know such a business people) they donate some of their income to charity without involving me and without showing off. But this form of marketing tries to manipulate into thinking that if I buy that product I become a better person. But they don’t offer another option. Is this real help or manipulation? What do you think?
Do you have the right to help if nobody has asked you? Don’t you feel better, stronger or superior to the other person? Have you ever felt that someone who helps you actually make you feel weaker? Does this give you the feeling that you are weak? Today I find this thought very common. I shouldn’t spontaneously help people I should wait until they ask. I shouldn’t offer unwelcome help. In such situations I make a judgement that their situation is worse than mine. I put myself over others. What do you think about it?
And the challenge for the next week.
Look at yourself – at the way you help or you are helped. Are there people around you who initiate help and engage you in it, making you feel you are better person now? Are you able to say „no” without a fear of judgement? Or maybe you are afraid of saying what you really you think so as not to be excluded from a group – at work, in family, at school, from friends? Are you able to refuse to help without feeling guilty?
I share with you what I’ve observed and what I follow. One thing is empathy – being compassionate, and the other is to give my energy and allow invasion into my personal space. I’ve heard a sentence that helps me: I am very sorry what’s happened to you. I can help you in this or this. But I cannot help you more than that.
I believe that practice makes perfect and it allows me to become more and more aware and confident to take care of my private space. I want these sentences to be mine:
I help. But only when it comes from my heart. Only when somebody is asking for it, not because I know somebody’s needs better. I do it when I feel honesty from the other side. With respect to my space, my personal zone. Without an audience.
It is all for today. See you next time.
This was 8 Minutes to Success. If I’ve left you wanting more that’s great. It’s much healthier to stay a little hungry rather than eat too much and feel sick. I hope you will listen to my next episode. To avoid missing any I recommend that you sign up for the newsletter on my website www.8minutestosuccess.com and the next episode will be sent to your email straight from the production line. Don’t be afraid I won’t be bringing this out every day. Don’t forget to subscribe. Would also be nice to get some comments from you and if you feel it’s worthy you can share it with your friends.
Take care. Bye, bye.