Why learning to say no is crucial to your overall health
In the world of Functional Medicine and Functional Nutrition, your mind, emotions and the state of your spirit is crucial to your physical, emotional and spiritual well being. The truth is that your physiology is deeply connected to your psychology. If you suffer from any symptoms and conditions, ranging from gut related conditions to immune conditions to endocrine conditions to neurological conditions, your mind and the your emotions can both contribute as root causes, and can be the reason why you are not finding complete resolution.
Suppressed emotions, frustration of any kind, not feeling support from people around you, feeling a lack of safety, feeling lack of trust, giving too much of yourself can all be reasons why you suffer physically. The reality is that we live in a world that is extremely fast paced and we require conscious effort to remain balanced, calm and purposeful. When it comes to your personal well being, learning to say no sometimes is so important as it makes you the centre again.
If you’ve had any childhood stress, chances are that you might be someone who feels the need to over extend yourself. Stress in early childhood or stress early on in life, can increase neuro inflammation making you less able to have mood control. It then sets your brain on a path of wanting to please the other person, and feeling the need to get approval from the other person, and not wanting to feel intimidated by the other person. All of this is detrimental to your health, for in order to feel a sense of empowerment with reference to your health, you also need to feel empowerment mentally.
If you are someone who finds it challenging to say no, are some of these personality traits you?
- You over extend yourself all the time, and people constantly take advantage of your gentle nature to suit their purpose
- You want to please everyone and will go to any extent to do so, even if it is at the cost of your own emotional wellbeing
- You care more about others’ feelings than your own, and end up feeling more frustrated after certain interactions where people take advantage of you
- You then feel bitter and resentful within yourself that you are not nurtured to the extent that you nurture and think of others
- You answer every question you are asked by someone who is intimidating in body language and speech
The fact is that if you find yourself doing all of this all the time, your body is going to be set in the sympathetic nervous system response of your autonomic nervous system where you are in a permanent state of stress. This can make you overly anxious, mostly when it comes to pleasing others and doing all that is necessary to see that the other person is satisfied and that you have won their approval. Truth be told, you will never do that. All you will end up doing is emotionally setting the stage that you are ready to be taken advantage of. Physiologically, you will upset your breathing, your blood pressure can fluctuate, and you can have palpitations. Beyond that, you can reduce something called BDNF or Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor, which is like growth hormone for your brain and protects it. You can increase brain inflammation which can then lead to multiple other conditions and symptoms, since your brain is at the centre.
So go ahead and start saying no now!
Imagine the person whom you keep trying to please at the cost of yourself. Ask yourself if anytime you’ve overextended yourself to please the other person has helped you in any way. It’s time to start setting your boundaries and learning to say no. You don’t have to be weasley about it, and beat around the bush. You don’t have to cover up a no in a polite white lie. You don’t have to explain why you are saying no. You just have to begin to say no! It might be hard at first, but like anything else, it becomes easier and easier as you move along. Start saying no today because you matter!
- You do not owe anyone anything. Just as much as they don’t owe you anything, you don’t owe them anything either. You do not need to bend your beliefs for anyone, however close they are to you. If you have a set of beliefs which make you feel centred, then make yourself and your beliefs a priority. Even when it comes to a job where someone pays you, it does not make you obligated to take their nonsense beyond what is your responsibility. Similarly, when it comes to family or friends, you care for them but you do not owe them so much that you need to sacrifice your own spirit. I am so garteful to my husband who teaches me to practice this every single day! When it comes to collaboration of any kind, make sure that give and take are in equal measures. If someone collaborates with you, with no giving to you, that’s not collaboration. The fact is that if you were to try and please everyone, then you would have so many obligations, that you are in no position to create a vision for yourself and work towards making that greater vision a reality!
- Your happiness is within yourself. That said, it doesn’t happen magically when you put yourself behind others all the time. Think of one incident where your heart made you feel you should say no to someone, but instead you did not, simply because you didn’t know how to say no, and think of the pain that not saying no created within you later. No one else can understand what makes you happy, except yourself. Make yourself a priority!
- The truth is that you cannot make everyone have a great opinion of you. No matter how much you overextend yourself, some people do not care about you personally. They might enjoy the fact that they have power over you, but they are never going to connect with you on the same level. Perhaps this is from their own sense of entitlement, but is trying to please them all the time worth losing your health?
It might be really challenging for you to say no, but there are small ways that can help you shift your mindset that you matter. Start focusing on what you need to stay healthy and happy. Honour yourself and start listening to your needs and listen to your inner voice when you feel like saying no. Even just incorporating small nurturing practices for yourself can make you realise that you matter. Ask yourself why do you value someone more than yourself? Do you feel a sense of guilt when you put yourself before someone else? Ask yourself why you feel guilty? Does this go back to any relationship where someone made themselves the priority over you?
Tomorrow begins now. When you practice saying no, and set healthy boundaries, you allow yourself to move into the Parasympathetic Nervous System mode, where you can rest, digest and heal. It allows your gut to calm down and send positive feedback to your brain. It allows your entire immune system to settle down towards recovery. It supports every system in your body towards healing. Start saying no when you want to, and embrace a new you which will make you feel physically healed, emotionall balanced and spiritually whole!