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No Episode 14


· 46:49


[00:00:00] Mark: It's weird how things kind of coalesce and moments kind of, uh, stick together like magnets, uh, I believe is a phrase from somewhere. In, in as much as the subject matter we're talking about today. I just got an email about the good kind of no. So the universe is definitely aligning to allow us to talk about, uh, saying no today.

[00:00:20] Anya: Oh wow. I'm, I'm, I'm intrigued by that, by what that email might contain, but I Shopify.

[00:00:26] Mark: Interestingly enough, it's, it seems to be, which could be a useful follow up at some point. It seems to be when you are on the receiving end of No, what can you do?

[00:00:35] Anya: Ah. Ooh.

[00:00:38] Mark: to, to follow up, perhaps an A for rejection. I don't know. I, I don't, I don't want to tell you how to do, you know, I don't, I don't come into there and slap the a Z outta your mouth.


[00:00:50] Mark: Welcome to the A to Z of Happiness, with Anya Pearse and me, Mark Steadman. Join us as we unpack the science of happiness, one letter at a time. This week, it's N for no.

[00:01:06] Anya: But yeah, I think that, I mean, I'm mostly going to just like focus on, you know, saying no, but I think, yeah, the, uh, aspect of receiving though can be very, very complicated. And I think it is one of these interesting things, you know, talking about, you know, no and rejection and refusal in the context of Happiness because you know, very often we can, I can feel certainly that I am trying to encourage myself and others to include things, more things that make us happy, but we only have a certain number of hours in the day

[00:01:44] Mark: Mm

[00:01:45] Anya: and to.

[00:01:48] Not only just fit the men, but also another route to Happiness is, you know, saying no to the things that make you unhappy.

[00:01:55] Mark: mm-Hmm.

[00:01:56] Anya: You know, there's a saying that, you know, when we're, when we're choosing these things, you know, if you can't say no, your Nhat, your Yes doesn't mean anything.

[00:02:03] And I think it's having that interesting, you know, can we have, you know, feel that, you know, if we're saying yes to everything and then feeling frustrated and burdened.

[00:02:13] You know, how is that a good quality? Yes. Versus like someone who's got actually, you know, I will say yes to things I want and I'll say no to things I don't want, and like kind of clarity between the two.

[00:02:25] Mark: I've left two community radio stations in a cloud of displeasure because of this very thing,

[00:02:35] Anya: really?

[00:02:36] Mark: because I felt, I found it so difficult to say no when people pressed my boundaries because I wasn't defining them well enough, and so people kept. Because, you know, if someone doesn't seem to have any boundaries, if you can keep saying, asking them to do things, uh, if you can keep loading items onto their, uh, to their back, like a game of buckaroo.

[00:02:58] Anya: That's exactly what I was thinking of.

[00:03:00] Mark: And if at no point you tip over, then they're gonna just, because they're like, well, he can take it on 'cause he's, you know, he's not complaining. And at some point that ends up in, perhaps in my, uh, in my nine ness with a lot of. Uh, passive aggression, uh, and then sort of, yeah, letting people down and, and yeah, it's, it's, it's kind of been a shame that both times I've, I've helped with community projects that's end up happening because when someone asks for something to be done, either you hear an empty room and it just feels like, okay, well if I can do it, then I will.

[00:03:37] Or someone directly asks you and you haven't figured out yet how to say no. Yeah. Then what ends up happening is you do too many things and then you, you get upset.

[00:03:48] Anya: Yeah. Yeah. And, and I'm just like, to clarify, if you're listening, you know, you said in, in your nine ness, we're referring to the Enneagram with that, which is a, a way of understanding our, our core behaviors and how they, our core motivation, so in how they might manifest in our behaviors and year nines.

[00:04:07] Are one of the anger trilogy, but they tend to not actually access anger until really, really pushed, you know, being very, you know, laid back and helpful and friendly. But yeah, Buckaroo, if you play pile too many things on their back, that donkey's outta here, Frank.

[00:04:28] Mark: I need To get a bell, uh, that I can ring anytime the Enneagram comes up in a podcast recording, because they are increasing in frequency. And I think this was the first time I brought one up. Unbidden on my own, you know, a podcast on which I'm a, a co-creator. So, um,

[00:04:46] Anya: we'll see if it stays in the edit.

[00:04:48] Mark: uh, yeah, I feel like I've, I've crossed some sort of Rubicon. Uh, I'm a real boy now. Anyway. Um. The good news for anyone who feels like they can relate to to what we're describing here is, uh, you've got some stuff that could be helpful.

[00:05:06] Anya: Yeah, well

[00:05:07] Mark: He says, leadingly.

[00:05:08] Anya: see he did very leadingly taking this horse to the water. Um, it came about a couple of reasons actually. You know, one, I did a workshop years ago in person and. A friend of mine, uh, Rebecca Moore, who's the author of some breath work cards, nudged me and said, you know, I'm sure there's like, there's like a rise model that you, you gave at this workshop.

[00:05:36] And I was like. I, I don't even remember what workshop that is. I googled it, couldn't find it, dug out my old notes and went, oh shit. I created something. And I found like a whole trove of notes into which, you know, this, this particular episode will be a, you know, diving in lightly, but yeah, more recently I had an experience with someone.

[00:05:57] I, I got to know someone who is an art. I mean, if we're gonna go any agram on us, baby, someone who's a two, I think, you know, someone who is very people pleasing, very much defines themselves by the relationships. And I was trying to work on something else actually. And then the phrase, no, the people pleasers first aid kit popped into my head.

[00:06:19] I sat down. I wrote out the outline on a piece of a four in about 20 minutes. Recorded the videos in about like within 24 hours. Yeah, it's a little, a little gift if you're listening. Um, If you go to my website and your Pearse dot com, it's for, you know, just go onto the free resources and you can see the watch, the first video, and there's like three others if you um, if you'd like them and various resources and stuff.

[00:06:43] But yeah, being. It's funny, when I was talking about this idea of people pleasing and just using that phrase, how many people just started to go, oh gosh, hi, hello? Or like, if it's not, yes, yeah, I'm in this photo and I don't like it. And then can I share this with other people who are also in this photo and need to fucking know about it? so yeah, it's. It's that, it's that realization how of how challenging and how fractious our relationship can be with the, with the word no. YeAh, and how it really kind of like requires a certain amount of self-knowledge, discernment, and courage.

[00:07:29] You know, you just mentioned earlier about the, your experience at the community radio stations. You know, not knowing, oh, there's something, you know, recently not knowing what is, what is what you want. And then having the discernment to check in with ourselves and go, okay, so is where do I sit with this? Is this something that I have capacity for?

[00:07:51] Mark: That's something that I wanted to, to 'cause it just appeared in my brain as well is, is thinking about capacity. And if I think about the things to which I found difficult to say no,

[00:08:02] Even with, with, you know, when I used to, uh, when I used to work for a living, uh, when I had a Joby job finding it very difficult to say no, knowing that you've got time because you can't really say I haven't got the time, but. It's really important that we protect that free time because then it doesn't become free time and then you spend all your time doing either doing things for other people or whatever. And so there's a thing there in, in, in capacity of being able to say, well, I need to actually protect some of this. I can't work to my capacity, or I can't be in service for my capacity. I need to be able to protect some of that time. And that's why I'm saying no. Yes, I've got the time to do it, but I'm protecting that time for me.

[00:08:46] Anya: Yeah, and I think a lot of people I would imagine the s is gonna be for self-compassion. A lot of people struggle with the idea of protecting something for themselves and actually putting themselves on that list of priorities and.

[00:09:02] I think one of the ways which I'm trying to come around at it is through the idea of a buffer. Because if we think about capacity and limits, there can be a sense of, well, all the things that I have now are going to be static and stable. Therefore, that amount of capacity is going to be static and

[00:09:22] Mark: Hmm.

[00:09:23] Anya: but actually having buffer. For the unexpected. And so if we can't think of it as, okay, this is something I need to protect for myself, actually, just thinking this is, this is time to allow me to be responsive to what shows up that I haven't thought about already. And so it goes from like this kind of protective hoarding, self preservation thing of No, no.

[00:09:47] I, I, I, I might run out, you know, he takes us to this idea of. Actually allowing space for Krenn creativity, for flexibility in what we've committed to already. You know, allowing things to relax and have spaciousness and take up more time and more resources if needed. And also, you know, when we think of the capacity and time, it's not just.

[00:10:17] You know, the physical hours, it's the amount of emotional energy that we have, amount of intellectual energy that we have, and this is something that I can be quite guilty of forgetting, is that, oh, you know, I can, that I have a certain amount of maybe physical energy due to my, my health, but actually emotional stuff will take up more energy from me than an intellectual exercise or whatever.

[00:10:42] You know, certain things can be more. Draining just naturally because there's more to process, more, you know, more data, you know, and so having that, you know, if you think about a laptop and a memory system the, the sys the software you use, uh, the script for editing this, you know, they require like at least 20 gigabytes of hard drive space. You know, they require a buffer for it to work effectively. And I think we're just the same. I.

[00:11:11] Mark: And so then we end up with. A difficult choice, uh, because if you define yourself by being affable by being, I was gonna say pliable, but that's not necessarily the word. I mean,

[00:11:27] Anya: Flexible, I think.

[00:11:29] Mark: Approachable, uh, you know, someone that to helpful. Yeah. Should we even Yes, absolutely. Uh, you know, someone that, that people can rely on. Then you are, you're sort of, you then get into trading that, trading that sort of what might be the niceness, uh, side of it for, for being authentic.

[00:11:49] Anya: Yeah, and you know, we'll go into this a little bit more, you know, about. I think this is like a perfect segue into one of our first prompts, actually. You know, how easy is it for you to say no? You know, this actually takes, makes me think of our old friend attachment theory and this idea of, you know, when we have a rupture or, you know, something happens with us and they're, our caregiver is contradicting us and say, oh no, don't be upset about it.

[00:12:19] Oh, it's not a problem. Whatever. Dismissing our experience, you know, we have this challenge Now, do I, ignore my own experience and stay in connection with you, or do I be your ambition, which is like, you know, we are primed as a social species, and so that is, you know, a very, very tempting prospect. Or do I stay with my experience and be authentic, but then risk, you know, when we're infants risking death, you know, it's kind of, it's not, you know, and it, and it can feel, still feel life or death to us, even as, as adults. You know, I talk about this in my, in my kid, you know, this, this thing of, oh, I want to be, I would prefer other people to like me.

[00:13:04] Mark: Well, it's, it's important for our, for our survival, isn't it? It's the whole, if we're not, then we're banished and, and banishment means death and all that

[00:13:13] Anya: Mm. Yeah. Yeah. And it makes it really tricky when we are trying to work out how we feel about something. Because I, my experience has been that a lot of people pleasers tend to be on the more empathetic side so that you're picking up more information from the other person anyway. And if you have experienced trauma as, as you know, many of us, you know, having, you know, with that as a big T or a small t, you know, developing something called hyper empathy.

[00:13:50] And so, you know, all we, all our bandwidth, all our capacity for processing is focused on processing the other person's data that they're giving us. And so being able to hold both simultaneously, you know, what, you know, what, what they're saying and what I'm saying, and hold them with parity. Actually, I think that's the hard thing.

[00:14:12] You know, I've noticed this for myself, you know, in certain situations where it's. Bloody ridiculous that I'm trying to people please. Because like the thing I, you know, the, the situation I'm in means that I, I can say no and there's zero consequences. And yet my instinct is, and my hyper empathy is always to be, is to try and find out, you know, what, what do you want first? So then I can orientate myself. Against that or in relationship to it. But if I, oh, this ringing a bell,

[00:14:49] Mark: Little bit. Far easier to do that than set out what you want and set out your store and have that be rejected.

[00:14:56] Anya: Yeah. Yeah. And there's a wonderful podcast uh, the poet therapist with Carrie Quinn, who's written a book on boundaries, which I really must pick up. But, and she talks about how in these, those situations as well, what we ask for is the absolute bare minimum. We don't ask for what we actually want. We ask with a very small amount that we think we might be able to get and avoid ejection through.

[00:15:21] And then when that doesn't get. Accepted. 'cause the people are thinking, oh, you are asking for the big thing that, and they can negotiate down. Like, no, no, no, no. I've already, I've already gaslit myself to ask for like the bare fucking crumbs. And you're now,

[00:15:34] Mark: from that perspective.

[00:15:35] Anya: yeah. Yeah. And so this is when like, people can get really, activated, really upset when. You know, they do ask for something occasionally because it's, there's so much, uh, emotional energy. There's so much weight on this one little thing that they figured that they can just about be justified. In asking for maybe, and they've screwed up all their courage and now they've been told no. And they are the horrible, terrible person and they should never have needs and y Yeah.

[00:16:10] And so when we are thinking about saying no, a lot of this does feel like, oh, I'm trying to say no to things that I. Don't want and don't want to do. But I always think of the scenario I used to use in the workshop was like, you know, you're, you're at a seminar and someone you don't want to spend time with asks you to, to have a drink afterwards, and you go, oh, no, no, that's fine.

[00:16:32] Thank you. You know, and, and that can be like a problematic situation. How do you say no to someone, you know, face to face? And it's not, it might not look, you're laughing. It might even be like a romantic thing. It might just be

[00:16:42] Mark: No, no, no. I'm just, yeah, no, I'm, I'm literally just thinking about like, yeah, did you fancy drink? And you're like, no, thank you. That it's just, it's such a, it's such a weird thing, you know, to, to hear. It's like, no, no, thank you. Like, no, not, I'm busy. Not, no. Just like, no, it's, it's so bold in just, no, I don't want to.

[00:17:06] Anya: And, and I, you know, and, and often, you know, we, we will try and couch it. I, I've, I've heard a way of doing it is like, you do you know, you do, you flip it around, say no, you know, thank you so much for thinking of me, but unfortunately I can't, you know, but, but nice to meet you. Yeah. 'cause I don't want to, you know, so there are ways of couching it, but like the o the alternative is, you know, you just message your partner.

[00:17:27] You are, oh, you're on your way home. You're gonna pick up takeaway on the way back. And then someone who you would actually quite like to talk to

[00:17:33] Mark: Mm.

[00:17:34] Anya: says hi. Would, would, no, we're all going for a drink. Would you like to come? You know, and 'cause there's not, there's moments when, you know, we do want to say yes, but we have to say no

[00:17:44] Mark: Yes.

[00:17:47] Anya: or else we're gonna.

[00:17:48] Mark: Yes. 'cause that person over there, uh, who was looking lonely is now thinking, but you didn't have time to go for a drink. oh. oh. Walking home sadly. What wall?

[00:18:02] Anya: I know, but because it's like, because I think with, with saying no, you know, and I, and I, and I am, this is just my own stuff, you know? But I do wonder whether there's kind of, there's two aspects to it as well, you know, of the external communication. You know, how do we. Engage with someone and com, you know, stand on our sacred ground and communicate our wants and needs and, and, and our refusal, you know, in a way which leaves everyone feeling, oh no, no, that was okay.

[00:18:31] I can accept that. That's cool. And there's also, then there's this internal conflict. You know, there's an awful lot that happens before we start flapping our gums and trying to do the communication part, you know? And I think, you know, we all have this learned behave, oh. It's typical to have a learned behavior around, or a learned relationship around the word?

[00:18:54] No. You know, for some people, again, the person who inspired my people's pleases, first aid care, when they were talking about their upbringing, I got the sense that no was not an acceptable word to give to someone,

[00:19:07] Mark: Yep.

[00:19:08] Anya: For me, you know, my, I mentioned earlier on kind of being in situations where I could say no without penalty, and I still struggle. You know, I'm, I've been socialized as a female, as, as, as a woman, as female in our society and the, you know, a lot of that is about making other people happy, you know, and prioritizing their Happiness over your own, and I'm also a disabled woman. And you know, I've had to practice saying no a lot because I physically can't do stuff.

[00:19:39] Mark: sorry, I, I'm just going, I'm having, I'm having a numb flashback to my. Induction as it were at the second community radio station where they, where the, uh, station manager. 'cause I think I, I was interested in having my own show and I think we were possibly talking about it. I'd, I'd already been doing some work for 'em anyway.

[00:20:06] And, uh, the station manager said. We need producers, let us down. We need you to sub in basically. And I hadn't used any of the gear yet. And I'm visually impaired and, uh, I had to queue up tracks on a hard drive that I hadn't seen before on software that I didn't know. And I knew all of this was gonna happen and I hate, you know, and it was a, I can't remember, an hour.

[00:20:32] God, it was, maybe it was only an hour long, but it, it was interminable. It was just, it was so horrible. Because yeah, like I, I didn't have the capacity to say, no, I don't know this equipment. I can't operate it in the way that you want me to because I can't see the screens and you are going to need someone who can see the screens.

[00:20:50] So, no. It just, I, I, I was completely incapable of saying it, and I think, I dunno, maybe this is a useful avenue, quick avenue to go down because of. It's not exactly reciprocity, but there is that thing of thinking maybe I want something from them which doesn't cross their boundary, but you've asked something for me and because I want something from you. Am I then making my boundary a little bit more flexible? And that's a bad idea.

[00:21:17] Anya: Mm. Yeah. 'cause I think, you know, there are kinda like some hidden benefits around saying no and not saying no. And, you know, it's kind of like, if I don't say no to this, then you won't say no to that. The, the silent contract stuff. And this happens a lot in re in in relationships, long-term relationships.

[00:21:40] You know, I I, I, I don't mention how much I hate the sound of you breathing if you don't mention how much I spend in shopping to overcome my hatred of his breathing, that kind of thing, you know?

[00:21:54] Mark: Sounds like the opening to a beautiful love song.

[00:21:56] Anya: It does by the beautiful south probably, but, but yeah, it's kind of like we end up in these silent, implicit contracts with each other, you know, where we're both kind of, neither party is able to fully articulate what they want for fear of rejection. And fearing the rejection more than, the un unfortunate consequences of not being able to pipe up and say what it is that they want in case the other party goes, yeah, and actually I want a divorce or whatever,

[00:22:30] Mark: yeah, absolutely that. Framing makes me think of doctor Who, psychic Paper. It's like we have these contracts that are written on psychic paper and so we EE, every time you hand the piece of paper over, they're both looking at it and going, yeah, that's exactly what I, I agreed to. And it's like, yeah, but the two completely different documents, because it's completely based on what we assumed.

[00:22:54] Anya: Yeah. Yeah. And it can be, it's a way of covering unhealthy behavior as well,

[00:23:00] Mark: Mm-Hmm.

[00:23:00] Anya: you know, by not being able to, I, I mean the, this thing of, you know, oh no, you know, I, I wanted to say no to that extra drink. But, you know, I just, I just, I just couldn't, or, you know, whatever. We all have these little things, which, you know, we, we stru, you know, we struggle to say no to, you know, my, my particular thing is dark chocolate.

[00:23:21] I, I do have a limit and I know that I can't eat too much and I will feel sick. And I find it really hard sometimes to, to say no, and, and I, I will. Say that I find it hard to say no as an excuse to have more,

[00:23:37] Mark: Yes. Yes.

[00:23:40] Anya: you know, and, and then I guess, you know, one of the other reasons why we know we might find it, one of the hidden benefits is, you know, you mentioned it earlier on about the capacity thing.

[00:23:50] Mark: Mm-Hmm.

[00:23:51] Anya: if we say yes to everything, if we don't flex our no. And we, that means that our schedule is busy. That means that we're busy with other people's stuff. That means that we don't have the opportunity or the energy or the bandwidth to sit down and be with our own selves and the, the voices and the demons. That would be fear within, busy busyness to avoid pain.

[00:24:17] Mark: Mm

[00:24:18] Anya: You know, and I think this can be one of the dark sides of being a people pleaser, of wanting to make a positive difference in other people's lives, is this thing of, you know, again, I've spotted this in a few people. You know, if I just keep running what I'm afraid of, can't catch me

[00:24:35] Mark: Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming.

[00:24:39] Anya: completely, completely. You know, and we. And it all feeds into this, these things of, you know, fear, ambivalence, and confusion. You know, because like the confusion stuff is, again, you're talking about the empathy thing. When we, when our, when we are so caught up in what other people want, we can get find, it's very, have very little capacity to work out what we want in the face of all that data. Particularly if you've got people who are strong personalities, who have a great deal of clarity.

[00:25:08] Mark: Mm.

[00:25:09] Anya: You know, it's quite nice, you know, when we are a little bit unsure to have someone place a flag in the ground and say, okay, this is, this is like a point to orientate from. But if they then start turning those flags into like, fence posts and linking them all up,

[00:25:22] Mark: Yeah.

[00:25:23] Anya: you know, that can be a little bit, that can be a different, different experience to, to engage with. You can and then, the ambivalence thing. I dunno about you, but I to, to misquote Walter Whitman hugely. I contain multitudes. There's like small communes villages, there's occasional cities. Like there's various aspects of myself and sometimes I think this can be part of the self-sabotage stuff is there is an aspect of aspect of ourselves that isn't on board with what we want to do.

[00:25:59] Mark: Yeah. Yep. And that, that voice can start to scream louder and it's, it's just like, why did you put, why did you say yes to this? We don't want to do this. I didn't want to do it then I more don't want to do it now.

[00:26:13] Anya: Yeah.

[00:26:14] Mark: I told you it was gonna be bad. This is bad.

[00:26:18] Anya: I fricking warned you, dude,

[00:26:19] Mark: Yeah.

[00:26:20] Anya: you know, and yet, and so, you know, when having, you know, having this ambivalence, you know, we feel that the, we are one continuous being, but actually, you know, there are so many aspects within us that can end up in this dialogue. You know, if, if you're lucky at a council, whether you'll talk to each other, if, if you're unlucky, it's a bar fight, you know?

[00:26:42] And none of the buggers played dice. So, you know, and having that, and then of course, you know what, you know, we touched on this right at the beginning, the fear thing, you know, fear of other people's reactions, fear of triggering someone else's anger, fear of being seen in a way that we don't want to be seen, you know, in a way that's, you know, there isn't an alignment, you know, if you think, oh, you know, I'm, I'm a kind, helpful, affable person. Now that means that if I say no, I'm no longer congruent with that self-image. Who am I if I'm not, if I, if I'm not those things,

[00:27:16] Mark: And then, and then you have the question of, uh, if you say yes, uh, to one thing, uh, what are you saying no to? You know, you, you mentioned sort of schedules and, and you know, uh, and, and the time. And the, a book that I think we've come to a lot, and I come back to a lot, uh, is, is 4,000 weeks.

[00:27:34] Anya: Yeah, I mean, Oliver Berkman, you know, I mean he, he does go quite heavy on the whole mortality thing in it. And that, you know, there, there is no such thing as time. We are time and, you know, it's all about death. But in 4,000 weeks he does have this very compelling point that, you know, we will die with our to-do lists incomplete. And if we think of ourselves as. Moving, you know, being creatures of time and using these, this ourselves and recognizing that we can't do everything. You know, allowing ourselves sometimes that grief to recognize because if, because that, that some shit is just not gonna get done. Some shit is just not gonna be experienced,

[00:28:24] Mark: Yeah.

[00:28:24] Anya: And trying to find ways to. Align our choices with our values. You know, our heart's desire for who we want to be in the world, which can, you know, through recognizing our agency, you know, the fact that we can make choices most of the time, sometimes are really, really hard.

[00:28:45] Mark: Mm-Hmm.

[00:28:46] Anya: You know, walking away from a relationship, walking away from a marriage, um, walking away from a job, a home, whatever. There's some like really hard choices that can be made. And can be these things that mean we're moving closer to our values, our hearts desire, who we want to be in the world, and meeting our needs or allowing space for our needs to be met. You know, I was working with an organization when we first started recording these in the first season at WHO I'm No, no longer with, and it broke my heart when that that partnership ended, and yet it has created space for more opportunities to come in that I would never have sought out.

[00:29:38] I wouldn't even imagine that were out there for me. And which meet, meet my needs more more organically, more consistently. And it's, it, it was because something which, you know, I, that I got to a point where, you know, I think both parties got to a point where there was a no, and being able to, there's something about that word, which is, it is.

[00:30:06] Challenging and the word that just popped into my head is freeing, as in there's a release that is a reclaiming of capacity for other things and for other experiences. And by through this process we can start to cultivate a little bit more self-trust. Because we know that, you know, you're talking about that inner a voice.

[00:30:32] It goes, look, I told you it's gonna be shit and it's shit the hell did you listen to? Like, and so we can have this in a con in a sense of incongruence where like, you know, I knew I shouldn't have said yes, but, but I let myself go along with it actually going, you know, I knew I wanted to say no and I actually managed to do that. All your parts starts realizing, oh, there's, there's a hymn sheet and they're all starting to at least look at it now. Maybe not sing from it. Yeah. You know, but at

[00:31:01] Mark: At least mouthing along.

[00:31:02] Anya: you are mouthing, mouthing along And like some of us, like, you know, we have to hold it between three. So not everyone can see it very clearly, but at least there is one. You know, there's actually is one, and that cultivates more self-trust.

[00:31:14] Mark: there's, there's a, a big thing there about the gut, I guess, and those moments, you know, if I think back those moments where I've, someone said, will you do, you know, do you wanna do this thing? And I've sort of gone, yeah. Um. Because the gut is screaming or it, it's, maybe not, maybe it's not screaming, but there's a squirming, there's a something that's like, I don't think this is, I, I don't think so, boss.

[00:31:40] You know what I mean? Like, I don't think this is a good idea, boss. I dunno what voice that is, but you know. Yeah. I got the bad feeling about this. I think I've got mighty boost there anyway. Yeah, there is, there is that voice. It's like, I, I don't, I don't think, I don't think we should do this boss.

[00:31:55] And, and you're like, no, it'll be fine. Be fine. Like, I'm driving this ship, I know what is happening. And, and so, but yeah, it's, and then so far in you just realize like, I, you know, if I think about even paid projects that've taken on and, and very shortly thereafter, I, I can't wait, but try and find a way out. Any kind of way out because it's just like, I hate I, this, it's like dragging through molasses. Like, because my whole, you know, my whole being does not want to do this thing, but there's a higher part of myself or a, a separate part of myself that's like, Nope, you need the money. It's like, okay, I need the money, but do I need the agro,

[00:32:30] Anya: Yeah. Yeah. And I think that's really one of the challenges that a lot of people have in, in, earning a living is, you know, finding this balance between, you know, the making the money thing and. This aspect that that goes, oh honey, you are selling your soul piece by piece right now doing this. You know, and I know that some entrepreneurs or or so some freelancers have like an asshole tax.

[00:32:54] Mark: mm-Hmm.

[00:32:55] Anya: And so, you know, if, if I am gonna have to grip my teeth and do this for money, you're gonna pay me a premium to do that.

[00:33:03] Mark: Yes, absolutely. I was chatting with a friend yesterday who's a, who's been freelancing for a little bit longer than I have, and yeah, we got into the whole thing of if you are gonna take the risks. Inherent in working for yourself, then there should be some rewards. And one of those rewards should be that you get mostly to do what you wanna do, because otherwise what's the point? If you're gonna take the financial risk and the, and the uncertainty and all that stuff, uh, and the admin, you know, and the, the, the, the tax of it all you. Better off. Like you should, shouldn't you be able to enjoy what you do otherwise? Yeah.

[00:33:48] Anya: I mean, I mean it's one of those things which is blindingly obvious when you say it, but I think, you know, a lot of, you know, small business owners, entrepreneurs, freelancers, or whatever, you know, you might start with these intentions or some of us, you know, just started up as freelancers, you know, by accident. You know, between jobs, you know, had a good client move from something into that and then act, act, the accidental entrepreneur,

[00:34:12] and yeah, there is, there are so, so many penalties or so much uncertainty when you work for yourself potentially. Which, if, you know, you could, you could certainly outsource a lot of the admin stress. And if you know, you know, to, to, to an employer if you so chose.

[00:34:36] Mark: But then, you know, you sacrifice your autonomy and all sorts of things, but this isn't, this isn't self-help for entrepreneurs. This is for people pleasers. What are some practical things? Let's get, let's get down to brass tacks. hoW can we practice saying no and yeah.

[00:34:51] Anya: Well, there's, there's a couple of things. You know, I think first of all it is just gaining awareness. You know? Are there particular situations or people, I mean, you meant, I mean the way you opened this, this, with talking about the community radio thing, actually being in a room of silence when no one else would volunteer.

[00:35:09] You know, just noticing that trigger and then, just finding out, you know, how does that feel in your body? You know, there's a great, one of the, in one of the videos I quote Mark Silver of, uh, the Heart of Business. He has a brilliant blog post, which I think is called, you know, I'm Just a Girl Who Can't Say No. And he says that these, the questions, you know, do they need help? Do they need my help? And what level of help am I comfortable giving?

[00:35:35] Mark: My, my, my former, uh, therapist had a, I was yammering on about being irritated on a train. And his sort of, one of his questions to me was, is it your task? Because I was getting annoyed at this is not about saying no, but I was, I was getting annoyed at someone playing their music or listening to TikTok without headphones in on a train.

[00:35:59] And. It's not so much the, the doing that, that winds me up. It's the, it's the, the rank rudeness of it and the, the in just, you know, the, the lack of whatever young people today, rah. And you know, I kind of just wanna be able to have a word and say, look, we don't do that. That's not what we do, uh, in a society. Put your headphones in because it's, you know, uh, and it's, you know, I want to make it a sort of teachable moment. And my therapist was like, is it your task? And, you know, it, it sort of helped with some of that frustration. It's like, it isn't my task to, to tell him that what he's doing is, you know, bad and wrong and he should be punished. It's not my task. And so I, I don't know, it's just, there's just something in there, you know, with, with what you said about yeah. Asking ourselves is it, yeah. Is this the help that I specifically need to, to bring to this situation?

[00:36:53] Anya: Yeah, and I think, you know, it's this idea of, you know, what's mine to do here? because I think, you know, it is, you know, if you are a people pleaser, there is this thing of, you know, and, and this is something actually I personally still really struggle with, you know, seeing things and going, oh, I know the answer to that, or I, I can help with that. And, you know, and a lot of that is, is, is, is true and there's an awful lot of it is not wanting to sit with a distress of, of, of seeing someone else in distress,

[00:37:22] Mark: Yeah.

[00:37:24] Anya: you know? And so it's not to make them feel better, it's to make ourselves feel better.

[00:37:29] Mark: Yeah.

[00:37:30] Anya: aNd so it's just, you know, noticing the triggers, noticing. You know, just keeping, even, keeping like a, like a little, there doesn't have to be anything major, like a, a, a couple, couple of notes at the end of a day and just go, were there any times when I really struggled and just, you know, noticing, okay, there are certain things.

[00:37:48] And then. Looking into your, you know, your friends and who you com, who you talk to, you know, is this someone who you could actually be very explicit with and just say hi, you know, I really struggle with saying no. Can I practice? And even like an exercise of like five minutes of them, like suggesting all the things that you love and you forcing yourself to say no.

[00:38:10] You know, going, going proper, like exercise improvy thing, you know, so I wanna take you to your favorite restaurant. Uh, no. You know, that kind of thing. But also, you know, in day-to-Day life, you know, being able to smart start small, you know, think about, you know, if someone offers you a cup of tea and you'd actually quite fancy a coffee, you know, can you say no?

[00:38:36] Mark: Hmm. It feels like though, there is, there is such a or or is there such a big difference between No, thank you and Well, yeah, I was 'cause it, 'cause you know what? What does it really come down to? It comes down to, no, I don't want to. And so I guess, yeah. What I'm struggling there with, or what I'm thinking wrestling with is when someone's asked you to do something versus asked you if you want something.

[00:39:02] Anya: Yeah.

[00:39:03] Mark: Whereas really kind of the answer is the same, but

[00:39:06] Anya: Yeah. And I think what, you know, I talk about this in the kit, you know, we can end up justifying things and you know, that there's, there's kind of the closing thought is, you know, this idea of that, I mean, and I always think this is allegedly, but the idea that no was a complete sentence,

[00:39:21] Mark: Yes.

[00:39:22] Anya: you know, I think. It, it is. And we are social creatures. And so being able to, we want to be able to communicate actually that we are declining a specific thing and not rejecting the person.

[00:39:42] Mark: Mm.

[00:39:43] Anya: And I think that's where the nuance comes in, you know? And so being able to be specific and saying thank you for thinking of me. I'm, unfortunately, I'm unable to help you in this occasion but I can ask so and so for you or whatever you might feel comfortable doing or, I know, I hope that you find someone soon, you know, or I can, you know, spend five minutes working out some alternatives, you know, alternative solutions, you know, whatever.

[00:40:15] You know, we have capacity for us. We don't have just have to say, you know, no, do not darken my doorstep again. And then, and, and, you know, there are certain circumstances under which that is entirely appropriate.

[00:40:24] Mark: Yes.

[00:40:24] Anya: But actually what I think what it's, it's trying to do is, you know, communicate as well, it's not just that. And I think people do tend to feel better if you say that you can't do something or you don't do something. You know, I like more of a don't, so like, you know, I don't. I know I don't smoke or I don't drink. It tends to be, uh, easier for people to reframe and move on from than, oh, you know, I'm, you know, I'm not really in the mood. 'cause that kind of leaves a door open and stuff.

[00:40:57] Mark: it's, it going back to no being a complete sentence in, in as much as what is for me, and I'm sure for, for many of us, perhaps for yourself as well. The, the, the tendency, the, you know, what you wanna do is, is I think as you've already said, is, is to justify it is no because, and it's, and it's that, that anticipation of them then, you know, because if you say no. The fear is they're gonna ask why not? And it's like, well, now I have to come up with a reason. But you don't, don't a reason because that reason is yours. And it may be because, you know, of, of many of these things, it may be because you wanna protect your time, may 'cause you wanna protect someone else's time.

[00:41:39] You don't have to come up with a reason. I used to think that about holiday and, you know, booking a holiday with, with my old employer and, and facing the question, you know, what are you doing? And it's like, well actually I just wanna have a week off. I just wanna sit in my, my pajamas and eat biscuits all day and watch pointless. That's my plan. Like I plan to not be here.

[00:41:59] Anya: Yeah.

[00:42:00] Mark: and, and that's okay. You know, it's, it's, you know, why are you booking this, this particular one day off? Uh, well it's because I've got an appointment with none of your business firm of lawyers.

[00:42:12] Anya: Yeah, indeed, indeed. And I think it is this thing of, you know, wanting. There's the two sides of that, isn't there? There's the side of wanting to have our own agency and the other side wanting some element of control. You know, prove to me that your reason for doing this is valid before I accept it, rather than just taking it on face value of going, you have asked for this, therefore. this is what happens, this, this, this is not an issue.

[00:42:43] Mark: Person asker, sometimes you don't get the thing that you ask for, uh, and you, you have to just move on. You don't have to then find out why, so that you can then come up with a counter. It's like, no, this isn't a negotiation.

[00:42:55] Anya: Yeah,

[00:42:55] Mark: I've said I'm not doing it. I'm not giving you a reason, because then that, that becomes. The opening for negotiation. And it's like, and like you said earlier, like if you offer to say no, but I can direct you over here, you know, I said no to I think it was a piece of work to, to help edit someone's podcast. And because it was religious, I said, no, I, I don't do that. But you can go to this website and, uh, I happen to know that they are quite.

[00:43:22] I think they're a religious company anyway, and so they won't have any compunction working on, on, on it for you. So there you go. You know, just being able to say no, but, and, and at least just be, here's some information or here's somewhere to get started so that you haven't presented them a brick wall.

[00:43:38] You've at least shown them that, that, you know, yes, it's away from you, but there is another direction.

[00:43:44] Anya: I know sometimes I think, you know, in the, with the third question of, of the ones that Mark Silver recommends, you know, what level of help do I feel comfortable giving? Sometimes it's just signpost.

[00:43:53] Mark: Yeah.

[00:43:53] Anya: and that can still be valuable in and of itself. And so like the one thing I, I know I mentioned right at the beginning, the thing that Rebecca asked me about, which I completely forgotten about, which was the RISE acronym.

[00:44:04] And so, and I think this kind of ties in nicely as we, as we leave. And so it's, you know, register how you feel. And I think this is like the point of power for us and actually just tuning into what we want. And, and how we're responding to it. As you said earlier on, like your gut sometimes like screaming at you going, no, dude,

[00:44:24] Mark: Pull up. Pull up. Pull up.

[00:44:28] Anya: but our socialized self wants others to like us. And so actually just noticing how we feel and maybe that tension between the two. And then I think, you know, this is, you know, the eyes for what do I need right now, you know, what's really asking for my attention? 'cause sometimes. When we're getting this impulse to help others or they're asking for our help or whatever, you know, there's a part of us asking for attention along the lines of, you know, oh, I want, I want people to like me.

[00:44:58] I want them to accept me. And that can be past the socialized self that wants to contradict our gut, our in our authentic response. And then. The idea. And I mentioned, you know, a throwaway line, and this is something I've picked up a phrase from Brene Brown, you know, standing on our sacred ground, you know, and I think it's, it's no, we're not kind of pushing forward and not being aggressive and not allowing ourselves to be pushed back.

[00:45:25] We're just kind of like planting our feet. Boom. You know, making ourselves feel stable and grounded. And then, you know, again, you know, I mentioned right at the beginning how this can be, you know, we've done the internal conflict aspect, now we're tuning in. And then the last piece is ex is expressing ourselves, you know, the external communication aspect.

[00:45:46] You know, this is a way to, you know, rise to these occasions. Hopefully, you know, being able to register what we want, recognizing what, you know, I might need. Standing on a sacred ground and then expressing that, as a way to know whether no is the right word that we need.

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Creators and Guests

Anya Pearse
Anya Pearse
Intuitive adviser, facilitator, and positive psychology practitioner.
Mark Steadman
Mark Steadman
Coach helping digital creatives with big feelings


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