Let’s face it – most women are pleasers. We grew up playing with baby dolls and being “mommy.” We are taught to be caregivers for everyone. Our parents wanted us to “dress appropriately” and “act like a lady.” In school our grades reflected whether we got along well with others and followed instructions.
In short, the message we received was that our job was to be kind, take care of others and don’t make waves.
That’s still the message women receive and we are harshly labeled by the media and society when we don’t conform. At work if we advocate strongly for our idea we’re a bitch. If we get into a debate the adjective used to describe our interaction is “shrill.” And of course, if we really go nuts then we must be on our period.
The adjectives used for men are completely different – confident, tough, a good negotiator. And hormones are never a factor.
Several years ago a new phrase became popular – “disruptor.” Companies and products that are redefining a category or shaking up their industry with new ideas are disruptors. The people who are disruptors are considered visionaries.
Women in midlife need to be disruptors as well. We should be envisioning our future and living life on our terms as joyfully as possible. Doing so requires us to be laser-focused on what we do and don’t want in our lives and manifesting it, regardless of what the people around us think. Here’s the thing, most people in our lives don’t want us to change. It either will inconvenience them or threaten their view of how life should be lived. And people looooovvveeee to tell us what we should be doing!
We need to change our mindset of what is acceptable behavior for us and the people in our tribe. By advocating for what you want and creating standards for what you will not allow you’re not a bitch your self-empowered. This is true in your professional and personal life. It’s time to stop excusing rude, insensitive comments couched as advice and concern that leave you feeling badly about yourself. Whether it’s your sister, friend or business colleague they need to hear from you in very confident language that you will no longer engage in conversations that you consider to be toxic or not supportive.
Recently on my You Tube Channel I did a video on establishing boundaries with family, friends and business colleagues who aren’t supportive. We talked about having the right to say “No!” to relationships, situations and obligations and how to do it.
How often do you find yourself doing something because you think that’s what you “should” be doing? We don’t want to join the committee or go to the family party but we do it because at some point we were programmed to believe that’s what we’re supposed to do.
Stop and ask yourself the question – how would my life be positively or negatively impacted if I said “No” to these things? Chances are, if you shut down the voice inside your head that tells you that you must do them, you’d not only feel happier but you’d have time to spend with a friend or work on your passion project or exercise or simply relax on the couch.
There are positive outcomes from “No”
When you’re a mom and working long hours, it’s natural to want to give your kids as much of your time as you can. There’s not a working mom alive who hasn’t heard the words “You never have time for me!” Saying “no” to spending an afternoon with your son or daughter and instead exercising, reading a book or visiting a friend, seems incredibly selfish to most moms. But not only is it important for your emotional and physical well-being, you’re also sending the message to your kids that caring for oneself is important. Additionally, kids need to understand that your job is something you enjoy doing and their requests for you to stop working will also be met with a “no.”
At work, “No” is extremely useful when a co-worker is trying to dump his/her share of a project on you or when your boss consistently asks you to stay late. There’s a difference between being a team player and being taken advantage of. The same holds true when you own your own business. Do you have a problem saying “No” to someone who isn’t willing to pay a fair price for your service or an employee who constantly shows up late or asks for time off? These are just a few reasons your business might not be growing as you would like.
Do you say “No” enough?
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- How much time did I spend yesterday doing tasks/favors for other people?
- How did I feel as I was doing them?
- When was the last time I said “NO” to something I didn’t want to do?
- How did that make me feel?
I’ve had my own struggle with boundary-setting and saying “No” lately. Ever since the pandemic started I’ve been feeding my family of 6 Every. Single. Night. Before this, my daughters had afterschool activities and we rarely all ate together. On many nights when either my husband, my mom or I were shuttling kids back and forth from activities dinner was “catch as catch can” meaning whatever you could find in the refrigerator or make yourself.
All of a sudden everyone was home and very quickly I found myself stressing as to what I was going to make for dinner. I couldn’t focus on work past 4 o’clock as the thought of dinner loomed large. To be honest a great deal of this had to do with my mother (who lives with us) envisioning family dinners all together which rarely happened under normal circumstances. My daughters are great at making dinner for themselves and even my son with Intellectual Disabilities can whip up a mean plate of pasta and meatballs for himself. I found myself very quickly becoming cranky and resentful. If I wanted to go for a walk or exercise or have a social-distance cocktail with my friend I had to time it so I could still make dinner.
I discovered that I needed to say “No” to cooking dinner and eating together every night. What I now do is state at the beginning of each day whether tonight would be everyone for themselves or dinner all together. By doing this I found I enjoyed mealtime much more and a ton of stress was lifted.
Please hear this:
It’s not your job to make anyone happy but yourself.
Think of something you consistently do that you would like to say “NO” to. Practice stating to the person that you no longer will do that task. When speaking to the person, even if it’s your child, be assertive and don’t apologize.
What would you rather be doing with that time you just saved? I’d love to hear from you!
If you would like to join a group of supportive women in midlife who are ready to get past fear and self-doubt and live life joyfully and abundantly, head over to Midlife Mavericks: Fabulous, Fierce, Females!