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Embracing Your Most Painful Memories Can Empower You

Embracing Your Most Painful Memories Can Empower You

Today I met and chatted with a woman who is what I call an “old soul”. You know how sometimes you meet someone and when you look into their eyes, you can tell there is so much depth to them? They have the biggest smiles and can light up the whole room with their radiant energy, but deep down, if you look close enough, there is a lot of pain. “Old souls” are said to have lived many lifetimes, full of wisdom and hearts of gold. I honestly think I was meant to chat with her.

She probably has no idea. but she has inspired me to write this article. I always talk about how tomorrow is never promised and we can’t take life for granted. Well, I gotta practice what I preach and stop waiting for the right moment. I need to make the moment right and grab the bull by the horns, so here goes.

Where I came from

Now I know there are a lot of other people on this planet that have been through hell and back and are still experiencing circumstances a lot worse than I can ever imagine, but seeing I am spilling my inner most thoughts to the world, I may as well have the courtesy to introduce myself properly and  allow you to get a better understanding of my background and where I’ve come from. I was born in Manila, Philippines.

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My parents weren’t exactly rich or even well off. Safe to say we were considered “lower class”. I still remember being 3 years old and terribly hungry. I was with my Papa and there was no food to be had. All we had in our shoe box home (imagine a tiny tin shed that barely even fit a car), was a bowl of rice that had been sitting there for days. Millions of ants crawling through it. My stomach was eating itself and as much as I didn’t want to eat the rice, I was famished. As I am writing this, I can remember the feeling of the ants crawling around in my throat. My mother worked hard and eventually brought me to Australia. I’m extremely grateful for all she had done and so unbelievably blessed that I have been able to grow up in such a wonderful country. The culture change at first was tough, but I settled in fine. I lived a pretty normal life.

It wasn’t until I was fourteen that my life took a turn. Life as I knew it changed for me at this age. Everything I knew was turned upside down. To try and fit most of it into one sentence, I have lived on the streets, couch surfed, stayed between multiple friends’ homes, been raped, molested, found myself in some very abusive relationships, been a drug addict, stripped, tried to commit suicide a few times and there was even a time my heart stopped beating and the doctors actually declared me “dead”. This was due to the night before when several men gang raped me and had put too much Rohypnol aka roofies into my system, causing my heart to stop. I actually still remember the out of body experience I had when I was supposed to be “dead”, but that is another story. Actually now I think of it, I’ve escaped death quite a few times. My time ain’t over yet! Lol.

Understanding who I am now

Now in saying all of that, I am not your typical case of “girl with messed up issues”. Only a couple of extremely close friends know this about me. Some of my close friends don’t even know any of this. My family have only just started to learn a small portion of what happened to me all of those years. Any one that knows me now would not even guess that I had been through half of the things I have. They would say that I’m bubbly, outgoing, and full of life. It took me a long time to come to terms with everything that has happened.

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It took me falling down on numerous occasions for me to wake up to myself. Looking back, I never did see the light at the end of the tunnel, there were times I just wanted to give up. I never thought I was worth much and it has been a journey to learn to embrace and love myself. As much as some of the things in my past was crazily painful at the time, I can honestly say that I don’t regret a single thing. If it wasn’t for being abused by men, I wouldn’t have the courage and the guts to stand up for myself as I do now. Ask anyone that knows me, I’m a tough little cookie and I won’t take crap from anyone. I know when to keep my mouth shut, but I know when the push comes to a shove. I know my worth, what I deserve and will no longer accept anything less. I have been manipulated by the best and for that I am thankful, as I have learnt to read and see straight through people and their deception.

These days, I choose my friends wisely. Only the genuine, positive and ones that add value to my life are who I spend my time with.  If it wasn’t for knowing what it was like to have nothing, I wouldn’t know how to appreciate the life I have now. I am like a child eating cake for the first time. Little things make me so happy. Watching the sunrise and set makes my heart skip a beat, hearing the waves of the ocean, chasing waterfalls and admiring it’s beauty, strolling by the water, eating a simple meal, snuggling on the couch in the warmth, all of these things that can easily be taken for granted is what brings a smile to my face.

I know what it’s like to be alone and to feel that there is no one on the planet that gives a damn. So when it comes to anyone in need, I am the first to offer assistance. If someone wants to talk about their problems, I will be their shoulder. I know what it’s like to make the wrong choices and do things that other people would frown upon and because of that, I am anything but judgmental. I do not discriminate on race or status.

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Only look back to see how far you have come

I realise we are all flawed in our own ways and that is what makes us unique. It’s a messed up kind of beautiful. Each and every single one of us have a story. We have all felt pain and happiness in different ways. Everything that has happened to us has helped shape us into who we are now. Don’t let the past define you. Take all of that pain, all of those tears, all of those sleepless nights, all of those times you never thought you would get through and use it as motivation.

You made it through, you were stronger than you thought. Use that pain to your advantage, use it to become a better version of you. Use it to win. Not against anyone else, win against yourself. Beat that voice inside of your head that is filled with doubt. You are better than that. Embrace those painful memories, take a second and reflect on how they have shaped you and look at just how far you have come.

You are strong, you are courageous and you are beautiful. How good does it feel to look at how much you have grown? Think to where you were last year, how about 5 years before that? Look how far you have come. Be proud. I think you should feel empowered.

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Don’t you?

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Last Updated on January 24, 2021

How to Say No When You Know You Say Yes Too Often

How to Say No When You Know You Say Yes Too Often

Do you say yes so often that you no longer feel that your own needs are being met? Are you wondering how to say no to people?

For years, I was a serial people pleaser[1]. Known as someone who would step up, I would gladly make time, especially when it came to volunteering for certain causes. I proudly carried this role all through grade school, college, even through law school. For years, I thought saying “no” meant I would disappoint a good friend or someone I respected.

But somewhere along the way, I noticed I wasn’t quite living my life. Instead, I seem to have created a schedule that was a strange combination of meeting the expectations of others, what I thought I should be doing, and some of what I actually wanted to do. The result? I had a packed schedule that left me overwhelmed and unfulfilled.

It took a long while, but I learned the art of saying no. Saying no meant I no longer catered fully to everyone else’s needs and could make more room for what I really wanted to do. Instead of cramming too much in, I chose to pursue what really mattered. When that happened, I became a lot happier.

And guess what? I hardly disappointed anyone.

The Importance of Saying No

When you learn the art of saying no, you begin to look at the world differently. Rather than seeing all of the things you could or should be doing (and aren’t doing), you start to look at how to say yes to what’s important.

In other words, you aren’t just reacting to what life throws at you. You seek the opportunities that move you to where you want to be.

Successful people aren’t afraid to say no. Oprah Winfrey, considered one of the most successful women in the world, confessed that it was much later in life when she learned how to say no. Even after she had become internationally famous, she felt she had to say yes to virtually everything.

Being able to say no also helps you manage your time better.

Warren Buffett views “no” as essential to his success. He said:

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

When I made “no” a part of my toolbox, I drove more of my own success, focusing on fewer things and doing them well.

How We Are Pressured to Say Yes

It’s no wonder a lot of us find it hard to say no.

From an early age, we are conditioned to say yes. We said yes probably hundreds of times in order to graduate from high school and then get into college. We said yes to find work, to get a promotion, to find love and then yes again to stay in a relationship. We said yes to find and keep friends.

We say yes because we feel good when we help someone, because it can seem like the right thing to do, because we think that is key to success, and because the request might come from someone who is hard to resist.

And that’s not all. The pressure to say yes doesn’t just come from others. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves.

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At work, we say yes because we compare ourselves to others who seem to be doing more than we are. Outside of work, we say yes because we are feeling bad that we aren’t doing enough to spend time with family or friends.

The message, no matter where we turn, is nearly always, “You really could be doing more.” The result? When people ask us for our time, we are heavily conditioned to say yes.

How Do You Say No Without Feeling Guilty?

Deciding to add the word “no” to your toolbox is no small thing. Perhaps you already say no, but not as much as you would like. Maybe you have an instinct that if you were to learn the art of no that you could finally create more time for things you care about.

But let’s be honest, using the word “no” doesn’t come easily for many people.

3 Rules of Thumbs for Saying No

1. You Need to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Let’s face it. It is hard to say no. Setting boundaries around your time, especially you haven’t done it much in the past, will feel awkward. Your comfort zone is “yes,” so it’s time to challenge that and step outside that.

If you need help getting out of your comfort zone, check out this article.

2. You Are the Air Traffic Controller of Your Time

When you want to learn how to say no, remember that you are the only one who understands the demands for your time. Think about it: who else knows about all of the demands in your life? No one.

Only you are at the center of all of these requests. You are the only one that understands what time you really have.

3. Saying No Means Saying Yes to Something That Matters

When we decide not to do something, it means we can say yes to something else that we may care more about. You have a unique opportunity to decide how you spend your precious time.

6 Ways to Start Saying No

Incorporating that little word “no” into your life can be transformational. Turning some things down will mean you can open doors to what really matters. Here are some essential tips to learn the art of no:

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1. Check in With Your Obligation Meter

One of the biggest challenges to saying no is a feeling of obligation. Do you feel you have a responsibility to say yes and worry that saying no will reflect poorly on you?

Ask yourself whether you truly have the duty to say yes. Check your assumptions or beliefs about whether you carry the responsibility to say yes. Turn it around and instead ask what duty you owe to yourself.

2. Resist the Fear of Missing out (FOMO)

Do you have a fear of missing out (FOMO)? FOMO can follow us around in so many ways. At work, we volunteer our time because we fear we won’t move ahead. In our personal lives, we agree to join the crowd because of FOMO, even while we ourselves aren’t enjoying the fun.

Check in with yourself. Are you saying yes because of FOMO or because you really want to say yes? More often than not, running after fear doesn’t make us feel better[2].

3. Check Your Assumptions About What It Means to Say No

Do you dread the reaction you will get if you say no? Often, we say yes because we worry about how others will respond or because of the consequences. We may be afraid to disappoint others or think we will lose their respect. We often forget how much we are disappointing ourselves along the way.

Keep in mind that saying no can be exactly what is needed to send the right message that you have limited time. In the tips below, you will see how to communicate your no in a gentle and loving way.

You might disappoint someone initially, but drawing a boundary can bring you the freedom you need so that you can give freely of yourself when you truly want to. And it will often help others have more respect for you and your boundaries, not less.

4. When the Request Comes in, Sit on It

Sometimes, when we are in the moment, we instinctively agree. The request might make sense at first. Or we typically have said yes to this request in the past.

Give yourself a little time to reflect on whether you really have the time or can do the task properly. You may decide the best option is to say no. There is no harm in giving yourself the time to decide.

5. Communicate Your “No” with Transparency and Kindness

When you are ready to tell someone no, communicate your decision clearly. The message can be open and honest[3] to ensure the recipient that your reasons have to do with your limited time.

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How do you say no? 9 Healthy Ways to Say “No”

    Resist the temptation not to respond or communicate all. But do not feel obligated to provide a lengthy account about why you are saying no.

    Clear communication with a short explanation is all that is needed. I have found it useful to tell people that I have many demands and need to be careful with how I allocate my time. I will sometimes say I really appreciate that they came to me and for them to check in again if the opportunity arises another time.

    6. Consider How to Use a Modified No

    If you are under pressure to say yes but want to say no, you may want to consider downgrading a “yes” to a “yes but…” as this will give you an opportunity to condition your agreement to what works best for you.

    Sometimes, the condition can be to do the task, but not in the time frame that was originally requested. Or perhaps you can do part of what has been asked.

    Final Thoughts

    Beginning right now, you can change how you respond to requests for your time. When the request comes in, take yourself off autopilot where you might normally say yes.

    Use the request as a way to draw a healthy boundary around your time. Pay particular attention to when you place certain demands on yourself.

    Try it now. Say no to a friend who continues to take advantage of your goodwill. Or, draw the line with a workaholic colleague and tell them you will complete the project, but not by working all weekend. You’ll find yourself much happier.

    More Tips on How to Say No

    Featured photo credit: Chris Ainsworth via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Science of People: 11 Expert Tips to Stop Being a People Pleaser and Start Doing You
    [2] Anxiety and Depression Association of America: Tips to Get Over Your FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out
    [3] Cooks Hill Counseling: 9 Healthy Ways to Say “No”

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