(Still) Learning to say “No”

I blinked and more than a month has gone by since my last message to you! It’s been busy a period of tying up loose ends and setting things up for the months ahead, and it’s now catching up with me.

I don’t always choose well, alas, sometimes due to a vague and ill-defined guilt that I must do something to help others even if I don’t really have the energy or won’t get paid for it. But this wrong action is sometimes followed by a mix of anger and resentment at myself for not having respected my own needs yet again – leading to an unhelpful drain on my energy.

After a few months of an over-intense workload, I spent most of the past couples of days in bed, giving me ample time to reflect on why I still find it so hard to say “no”. (It turns out I have been adopted by parasites, which is more common than we realise, but that’s for another post!)

Dr Gabor Mate and others link an over-giving nature to early childhood trauma – which has many manifestations ranging from alcoholic parents to actual abuse and much in between – which makes us want to fulfil the needs of others before our own. It’s a fairly unsustainable pattern in the long run.

To add to the plot, and as another clear test of my boundary setting skills, the past couple of weeks have also brought me more than the usual amount of requests to work for free (I usually get at least one a week). Some of these are subtle, bordering on manipulative, and some are more direct. Either way, each one is an opportunity for me to decide what is right and fair for me. (It even prompted me to open up a new category of astrology reading – one question aswered via email for those who don’t want a full reading!)

Because what I do somewhat overlaps with the kind of everyday support and advice one would hope to get from a wise friend, it can be difficult to draw the line. But, given that I invest constantly in upgrading my skills – spending an average of €3000 a year on further training, as many other therapists and teachers like me do as well – I also want to recover some of that investment, not to mention pay rent and feed my family.

Our society undervalues teachers and caregivers. A life coach who works from the same premises – heavily borrowing  from (reductionist) Buddhist mindfulness and even yogic philosophy – will charge many times what I do, and I doubt they are getting asked for free advice as much as yoga teachers and healers do. Why is that?

The reason I write this is because I know many of you are also in this position, and those that aren’t might find it helpful to see another perspective, especially if you have never worked independently.

I would love to hear your insights on this, as I don’t have any clear answers except to keep practicing saying “no” and hoping to find the right balance eventually. I’m already working on the “no’s” that I know are right for me and I look forward to enunciating them in the months ahead as I adjust my schedule and my plans!

In the meantime, we can all be inspired with the current changing energy that is helping to move us forward. However uncomfortable or scary it might make us feel at the moment, we know that there are things in our life and society that must change as the pressure is getting unbearable. We can do this, and we must, because waiting for someone else to sort out your life or the problems of this world is how we got into such a mess in the first place.

As of last Friday, after four months of perhaps feeling that things aren’t transforming as evidently or deeply as we might like, Jupiter is now supporting our advancement better than it has all year. It’s time to move forward and harness Jupiter’s potential for growth, expansion, evolution, and positive change. It’s a great time for new beginnings in partnership (personal and professional), in the creation of art and beauty, and in the movement for peace and justice.

The tension in the air all this week and next mean that it’s a good time to count to ten before speaking, or before getting into pointless online debates on social media. It might not end well. However, if you can use this same energy as a stimulus, you can get a lot done and find the courage to make the changes you must.

As always, your heart is your best advisor. I hope you don’t have to end up in bed to listen closely to it!

With much love and light,

Susan

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