Written 21 January 2014
I had to giggle recently. Actually, I didn’t really feel like giggling when it happened. Looking back, a few hours later, I’m shaking my head at the unbelievable speed with which we can be dumped right back into our old “stuff” and patterns.
I’m talking about my old, favourite pattern. “I can’t say no.”
I wrote an entire book about it because I’m an expert! I learnt huge amounts about my pattern while writing this book.
During the writing of my book “No Problem. The Upside of Saying No”, I uncovered 15 of the most common reasons for people to go along with a plan, suggestion or request instead of speaking up and saying “No”. And I mean “no” in any shape or form.
This morning a perfect example arrived in my life to prove, yet again, that some of our patterns run really deep. We may think we’ve cleared it and feel confident that we can handle it. And then an exception arrives.
The Panic and Pressure
Someone phoned me this morning as I was getting ready for my day. The phone call was from an Afrikaans lady, who was referred by a colleague of hers (who is a student of mine). She was enquiring about bringing her friend’s 15 year old son for an EFT session.
For a start, it’s not my favourite to work with teenagers. I’ve had some tough experiences - it can be such a long process to build rapport with a teenager. Parents often expect one session to make a miraculous difference, while the truth is it could take a few sessions before a teenager or child trusts us enough to talk about their true feelings.
Another challenge is that I have a varied business where I see clients in person in an office, and also run an online business. Plus I’m writing a book at the moment and attending courses so there are many activities to fit into my weeks.
My office hours are limited in order to give me segments of time I can spend on those different aspects. I find I’m too scattered if I fit in more than 2 or 3 types of activities in a day. Then nothing gets done. I see clients Tuesday mornings, Wednesday afternoons and Thursday mornings. Teenagers are in school those times, plus their parents are at work.
I explained my working hours to the women. She sounded very understanding and also a bit taken aback and disappointed.
All my “stuff” around needing to help people popped up in an instant. Here were all the reasons I described in my book, clambering for attention, demanding that I change my schedule so I can help this teenage boy.
- I have to help because they asked. I have no choice.
- I’ll feel guilty if I don’t make a plan.
- I’ll be selfish if I don’t change my plans (and boundaries) of working only certain hours.
- I can’t disappoint them – this is a person that needs HELP, they had the courage to phone me and I really cannot let them be disappointed. (I’m such a rescuer!)
- There is only one plan, and that plan involves me. They’re Afrikaans (my home language) and there’s no-one else in Johannesburg I know of that can do EFT in Afrikaans. It’s down to me.
- If I don’t help, who will??
- They expect me to help. That means I must.
- Their urgency needs to be mine. I’d better shift my calendar and planned appointments urgently.
- Their needs (to receive help) are more important than my needs (to attend to all the aspects of my business).
- The student who referred them will feel silly or disappointed if I don’t come to this party.
- She may never refer someone again – so I may miss out on other opportunities.
- I’m afraid they won’t like me if I don’t twist myself into a pretzel to accommodate them.
I had the presence of mind to ask the lady to consider my available appointment times first and then get back to me. For self-preservation, I’ve had to learn the skill of taking the immediate pressure off (to say yes), and to buy myself time. That way I can sit quietly and consider what’s good for me too, instead of only considering the other person.
EFT Always Helps
I sat down to start tapping on this huge package of discomfort. I was feeling completely triggered into my old pattern of making a plan to accommodate someone else. I was dangerously close to saying “Okay I’ll make a plan to accommodate your needs”. That’s exactly what I used to do, automatically, without fail – and then I was left with the anger, raging frustration and resentment for putting my own needs last and “doing it again”.
I decided to do some “slow tapping”. I tapped on the eyebrow point, saying all my frustrations, thoughts, emotions, justifications, every thought that needed to be voiced until that point felt “free”. I tapped the side-of-the-eye point, doing the same thing. And so on, down all the points, saying every single thing that came to mind as I was staying on one point until nothing else felt like it needed to be said on that point.
I became aware of a huge uncomfortable anxiety-feeling on my stomach, in the area of the intestines. This, I realized, was where I feel internal pressure to say “yes”. It felt like an almost unbelievable pressure – it was going to explode if I didn’t give these clients what they wanted.
I realized, in that moment, how often I feel this pressure. I feel pressure often to do something quickly, or make someone else happy, and this feeling on my stomach area made it hard to withstand the temptation. The minute I say “yes I’ll help”, the uncomfortable stomach pressure disappears. Temporarily and blissfully.
After that, the resentment and “I shouldn’t have done that” kicks in, which is a different discomfort. That doesn’t feel like it needs immediate relief, though – I can live with it for a long time - while the “pressure to say yes” is huge.
I hadn’t completed this tapping session with myself by the time my next client arrived. I know I have more work to do in this area, for myself.
The wonderful thing I realized is that even though this pattern can still be triggered in me in an instant, it takes a lot more to trigger it now than it used to. In this particular situation there were 10 or more of my underlying beliefs all wrapped up in one enormous pressure cooker. A year or two ago, I would not even have explained to the women that I only see clients only on certain days. I would have instantly made arrangements to suit them and then lived with the regret of shooting myself and my own priorities in the proverbial foot.
I realized how important it is to notice our own progress. How often do clients say “but I still have my problem – its’ not gone”. Yes, I can see that in my own life. Can we please just also celebrate the progress we DO make? Can we give ourselves a little bit of credit for how far we’ve come and the fact that we are now dealing with a yet deeper layer or aspect of our pattern?
We’re works in progress and as a mentor of mine said in my early days in EFT – “Our issues are our issues are our issues….” Some of them are deeply entrenched, others are easier to haul out and clear out. If you’re familiar with the Enneagram Personality Types, you may have an inkling of what I’m talking about here. Some patterns are with us for life and we can make huge progress and then suddenly we’re right back “in it”.
Kindness or Condemnation?
I believe that kindness, compassion and being gentle with ourselves for those core patterns that keep popping up, are what’s necessary. Wayne Dyer says “You cannot remedy anything by condemning it” and I find this so true, over and over.
And yes, more tapping. Not because we “want to get rid of the problem” (which is a form of condemning it) – rather because we want more choice in life, and open up a life of more freedom and possibility.