YP not MP: the Guzo (Journey) to Healing Starts When You Learn to Say No
December 22, 2021
Tell me if this sounds familiar, you are on a trip somewhere and someone in the car wants to listen to a podcast. Even though you are the one driving and you really wanted to listen to music, you consent to the other person’s request. So busy trying to please people, you end up silencing your voice to accommodate others. This predilection to assuage people is so pervasive that you don’t even notice how dishonoring it is when you are doing it.
This get along to go along personality is eventually exposed when the same scenario plays out, except you are the one doing the asking instead of being asked. You assume that others will play by the same boundary-free playbook that has been playing you most of your life only to simmer internally when they say no. If you had pearls on, you would clutch them at these moments. How dare they refuse your entreaty when you have been saying yes to their desires at every turn.
Well, my friend, they are not the problem, you are. Oh trust me, I am not presenting this article to lecture you if you are a people-pleaser because I am writing this for me as much as I am writing it for the reader. After spending decades laying down like a rug only to get livid when people walk all over me and refuse to join me in Club Doormat, I finally wizened up and realized that my biggest foe was not people who have been injuring me over the years but the man in the mirror who keeps inviting people to hurt me.
It took the deepest pain of my life, and boy I can tell you I can fill up books with the wounds I harbor in my soul from the time I was seven years old, and the greatest adversity wrought by the closest person to me to open my eyes and make me see the folly of my ways. I could have chosen to point fingers and assign blame as I did initially, but by the grace of God and the angels he sent to me by way of family, friends and strangers, I realized that the person I should be focused on is not her but me.
The Bible cites that with wisdom comes woe but the reverse is equally true. Amid this storm where I have not seen my son in 52 days and counting, I decided to seek God instead of seeking vengeance. Now don’t get me wrong, I am still a work in progress for that ego is a most bedeviling friend. But I finally learned to give myself credit for the small steps instead of bashing myself for not being perfect. By accepting myself as I am and striving to do better instead of berating myself until I achieve some lofty achievement, I finally learned to love myself.
With self-love comes the ability to put up boundaries. This morning at work someone tried to be cute by half and blame me for something I was not responsible for. The old me would have let it slide over and over again until a tipping point is reached and I react out of anger, the new me checked him immediately and did so not out of anger but with facts. No longer do I feel afraid to state my mind, I feel liberated to be myself instead of walking on eggshells for fear of disappointing people.
This virus of people-pleasing, what Ethiopians call “qum neger”, is deadlier than Covid-19 because it kills your spirit while you are still living and eventually leads to a life of self-isolation::
Do you know why I was afraid of letting people down? It was not about them, it was about me. The memories of losses I experienced in my youth conditioned me to have a deep fear of abandonment. This is the root of my people-pleasing personality, I dim my light on purpose for the sake of acceptance. This sickness of validation seeking never ended well, energy attracting energy, I kept drawing people who happily squeezed me dry. I don’t blame them, suckers are meant to be licked and discarded when the Sugar Daddy is no more.
Even though the road ahead on this guzo (journey) is hard, I have every confidence that I will prevail the same way Ethiopia will prevail over her internal and external enemies. My confidence is not rooted in arrogance but out of confidence that is bestowed when I started to push my ego to the side and invited God into my life. Love on earth replaced by love that is eternal, I now have no problem saying no.
Come to find out most of the time people do not get offended when I refuse their request. The fear of abandonment is a figment of my imagination because true love doesn’t leave because you said no. If people do hit the road because you put up healthy boundaries, tell them gilagil which means good riddance in Amharic. And for those who remain but get upset because you refused to silence yourself, just tell them YP not MP, as in your problem not my problem because your job is not to cater to people but to seek and speak your truth::
“True love cannot be found where it does not exist, nor can it be denied where it does.” ~ Torquato Tasso
Teddy Fikre is the founder of Guzo to Healing, formerly the co-founder and editor of the Ghion Journal, he launched Guzo to Healing on his on guzo (journey) of healing from past wounds in order to liberate himself from the prisons of regret and guilt. The greatest journey we take is that which we travel to heal ourselves and by extension help others who struggle.