We all love to be liked, and we women especially love to please. And in our minds, if we say NO, we won’t be liked.
So often we say yes, even when it costs us. How many times have you ended up doing something you didn’t want to do because you couldn’t say no? Why is it that we put other people’s will before our own? And how does that relate to self-defense?
Essentially, it all comes down to self-love. This is very different from narcissism or selfishness, which both involve a lack of empathy towards others. When you love yourself you still feel love for the other person, but your needs come first. The love for yourself is the one that is the most important (except, of course, for the love for your children).
For example, a friend asks you to run an errand for her, as she has to be somewhere else. You want to be the hero of the day so you do it. The time it took you to run that errand blocked out three hours of your day. You missed out on your lunch, your me-time, and some studying you had to do. You put her needs before your own and sacrificed things that would have made your life better. Now, if you had said no, your friend may have been upset, but you would have been able to take care of your own needs. That doesn’t mean you don’t care about your friend – you just prioritize your wellbeing and value your time.
I used to please people too. For years I gave up on my sleep, nutrition, training, money and independence to be a “good friend”, a “good partner”, a “good person”. Until, one day, a woman said no to me, in a way that changed my thinking. I was upset, of course. How dare she? I thought at first, but then I realized – I admired her! She didn’t give me an explanation, she wasn’t unkind; she just put her desires first. I should be like that! I thought.
So the next time a situation came up, I said no. And I lost the relationship to the person I said no to. At the time, I felt I should have been more easygoing, more flexible, more… giving. But saying yes, in that case, would have gone completely against my principles and who I am. And you know what? Now, looking back, I know that a person who truly cares about you won’t ask you to do something you are uncomfortable with, and won’t leave you because you didn’t do them a favour.
So, what does all that have to do with self-defense? Well, ladies, saying no means holding your ground, having control over your life, making your own decisions, loving yourself and having no fear. Needing no one’s approval. All of this creates confidence. And if you are confident, you are unlikely to be chosen as prey. As I mentioned in previous blogs, self-love and self-confidence are very unattractive for predators. They usually look for easy targets who are not going to say no to them (see my mini e-book Fatal Attraction for more on this).
Saying no is one of the most important steps you can take towards your own empowerment – plus it makes your “YES” even more powerful.