Walk Away From The Crap That Doesn’t Serve You
by Annia Baron
Think of the most compassionate person you know. Bring to your mind their kindness, generosity, and caring nature. Picture their gentle, smiling face, willing to offer a helping hand at the drop of a hat.
Now, watch them pick up the hat, tip it towards you with a wink, and turn to keep walking their path. They don’t need to explain. They trust in their decisions and live their truth with pride and humility. For them, being kind and compassionate isn’t about the need to please in fear of disappointing people, it’s about the courage to set and maintain healthy boundaries – what to say “yes” to and what to say “no” to. And where are they walking? Away from all the crap that doesn’t serve them.
Academic researcher and New York Times best-seller Brené Brown found that it’s not being selfless or benevolent that makes the most compassionate of people. It’s acting with courage to say no to things and experiences that don’t align with personal values. The most compassionate people were found to be those with “boundaries of steel” (see Vulnerability & Power with Brené Brown and Russell Brand*). If that doesn’t sit comfortably with you, you’re not alone. We were raised with “Always be nice to others” and “Don’t be rude, act politely” which implied, “Strive to be agreeable”, as that was particularly rewarded.
“This incessant need to people-please is robbing us of opportunities to live with compassion – for ourselves and others.”
Today, more than ever, we want people to like us and know that we’re easy to get along with. We seek approval and strive to be agreeable. Naturally, “yes” has become the default. We say yes to everything and everyone, even though deep down, we know it may be going against our inner truth.
This incessant need to people-please is robbing us of opportunities to live with compassion – for ourselves and others. It creates resentment that we hold onto for hours, days or even years! You exercise your body for physical strength and wellbeing, but without a strong no muscle, your good intentions to create the life you say you want are likely to crumble. If you can’t walk away because you fear disappointing someone, how likely are you to walk away from all the other stuff that doesn’t serve your best self – the sugar hits, the fourth glass of wine when you’re already pushing it, the Netflix binge, the overspending or the procrastination.
Strengthen your no muscle. Train yourself to be the most compassionate person who has boundaries of steel. Get familiar with all that truly matters to you and keep track of situations you found yourself caving in to avoid disappointing others.
Act with kindness, keep helping people and embrace benevolence but for goodness sake, stop dishonouring your needs. People-pleasing is what your younger self learned to do but saying no to all that doesn’t serve your growth is what your future self is already applauding you for.
Annia Baron is a Clinical Psychologist and Mindset Coach at ReMind Yourself in Hobart. remindyourself.com @anniabaron