“When you say yes to others, make sure you are not saying no to yourself.” Paulo Coelho
Saying no to someone makes me feel so guilty, like I immediately offended another person’s feeling . I have lived on this earth for all most 30 years and I am just starting to learn now how to say no Without feeling guilty, and all the thanks to my pup (who is on the cover picture, by the way)!
I like to take my dog hiking with me all the time. He is a tall black lab/German shepherd mix and looks like a little horse. After my husband left for deployment, Altai started showing some aggression towards other people. So, imagine this little horse aggressively barking at you when you pass on the trail or lean over to pet him. I started feeling guilty about taking him out with me or be in crowded areas because I couldn’t let other people and their kids pet him or approach him in any way.
When I took him to the training session last week (I would rather pay money to the trainer than in court), the trainer just blew my mind. She said: “You know that we cannot just come up and touch other people, it would make them feel uncomfortable, well it is the same with dogs. You are with your dog enjoying your hike, so why do other people feel the need and that you are obliged to let them pet your dog? Just say – sorry, you cannot pet him, he is in training.” That was like wow…I can actually make it about myself and my pup? She even said that someone called her a bitch for saying that and I immediately remembered this one mom’s look when I told her that her kid couldn’t pet my dog.
Today was the first time since that training session when some kid asked me if they could pet Altai. I said, no, sorry, he is in training and the kid got upset. Well, too bad! At least, she asked! It felt good to say that and not feel guilty!
I would say that I definitely needed to differentiate guilt from being afraid to offend other people. We can throw low self esteem and high sensitivity here too which I am not going to touch upon here.
I was a very obliged kid with a very controlling mother. I didn’t even realize the whole effect of this over control until I became an adult and went to the therapist in my late twenties. She was able to connect all of my issues to my mother! I mean I heard that all of our problems come from our childhood before but I never realized the whole extent of it. An excessive feeling of guilt is definitely one of the consequences of my upbringing. I was always afraid to upset my mom and if I did, I was immediately receiving a cold shoulder.
This feeling of guilt sucks. It does not just appear when I say no to someone, there are plenty of other scenarios, but I will get to them later. At least, for now I can say no to people who want to pet my dog.