I once had a yoga teacher who started every back bend with this encouragement: “You spend all day bending over backwards for everyone else. Now you can do it for yourself!”
As women, we are always expected to like being sweet, pretty, helpful, forgiving, hospitable…the list goes on and on. We are asked to give wholeheartedly whenever someone else “needs” anything from us.
But you don’t have to choose between self-empowerment and the rest of your life. You can decide “I don’t have to bend” and the people around you will still love and respect you. They just might not understand this new dynamic. We teach people how we want to be treated and if we are giving ourselves away- someone will be there to take from us.
Are you tired of taking on too much all the time? Are you ready to join other women who aren’t going to bend anymore? Here’s how.
Find Your Voice And Learn How To Use It
Too often, we tune out our inner voices and don’t speak up for ourselves. When you decide not to bend, you choose to have a voice. Instead of automatically answering questions with a “yes” or “whatever you want to do,” stop and think about what your answer actually is.
If your date asks what you want to do after dinner—be honest. Whether you want to call it a night, head to your favorite bar, or take him back to your place, make your suggestion without worrying about what he wants to do. People who know what they want and how to ask for it are attractive to others.
When your boss asks for your input during a meeting, take it as a compliment and offer your opinion. Whether or not he/she likes your ideas, your boss and your co-workers will respect you for having them.
And when friends invite you out, don’t just check your calendar to see if you’re free. Consider whether this activity will be meaningful to you, and if it’s how (and with whom) you really want to spend your time. Listening to your inner voice first will grow your understanding of who you are and what you want.
Believe in Yourself
Now that you’ve found your voice, believe in it. Speaking your truth can be a powerful high, but there will still be times when you second-guess yourself. That’s okay, don’t worry about roadblocks, just get back on track. In order to move past doubt, understand that it’s a symptom of fear.
Committing to your convictions can be scary. What if you’re wrong? What if someone you admire disagrees with you? What if someone you like, doesn’t like you, because you spoke up? What if standing up for your convictions will be lonely because other people don’t care about the issues that move you?
The answer to all of these questions is—it’s okay. You’ll be okay. If you’re wrong, you’ll learn something. If you need to defend yourself, you’ll have a chance to say more about why you’re passionate about this topic. A friend who doesn’t want to hear what you have to say is a friend you’re better off losing. And loneliness is nothing to fear. Everyone who discovered, or invented, or started something new was alone at the beginning.
The best reason to believe in your own convictions is that no one else will do it for you. You’re the only one who can write that novel, come up with the next great idea at work, and stand up to the injustice you see around you. The world already has everyone else. It needs you to be you.
Realize You Don’t Owe Anyone Anything
The purpose of backward bending in yoga is to strengthen the spine. So when we bend over backwards for ourselves we develop a good backbone. You’ll need one as you walk your own path of empowerment. Inevitably, the only way to stop taking on too much is to say, “No.”
Saying no to people can be very difficult. Maybe you hate to think you’ll hurt someone’s feelings or let them down. Remember that it’s not personal, and no one is as worried about what you do as you are.
You have to say ‘no’ because the alternative, always saying ‘yes,’ is no way to run your life. In the end, you won’t have the time or the energy to say yes to everything, and worry about making everyone happy. You don’t need to wait for a crisis to act.
Start repeating it now: I don’t owe anyone anything.
It’s freeing, right?
Remember, this isn’t about others. It’s about you. It’s about you paying attention to that small, still voice within. You don’t owe anyone anything and you’re not going to bend anymore. Let’s start a movement. Tell us how you stopped bending over backwards. What positive changes has self-empowerment brought to your life?
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