Have you ever been in a situation where someone asked you to do something, and you automatically refused, not because you didn’t want what the request would bring you, but because you were resisting the person doing the asking?
This is called “demand resistance” and, not surprisingly, the behavior is closely tied with self-sabotage. Sometimes the term used is “demand sensitivity” and it is a common element in codependent relationships.
To discover whether this is a habit in your life that is getting in your way, take a look at your history of dealing with opportunities. If someone you feel is trying to control you suggests that you do something, do you metaphorically speaking “dig in your heels” and spurn the offer? It might be something you really want, and you feel a sense of conflict inside over saying no, but it’s as if some deeper need is forcing you to stand up for yourself and turn down what is being suggested.
Now look at the regrets and the feelings of being cheated out of a trip or an event, a party or an outing, that you secretly wanted to agree to do or attend. And yet that stubborn voice inside was saying: Don’t you dare say yes! You always say yes! You’ve got to start saying no for a change!
The problem with that voice is that it doesn’t have your best interests in mind. It’s speaking from your paradigm, or mindset about what actions will keep you safe from potential harm or distress in an already rocky relationship. It’s coming to you from a frightened place within that can only look at the future and predict more of the same outcomes as the past dished out.
When we learn more about standing up for ourselves and our best interests, the urge to say “no” when you really do want to say “yes” and the seemingly paradoxical pattern of frequently saying “yes” when you want very much to say “no” will start to straighten out. You’ll find more balance. You’ll find that you can be your own best friend. You don’t have to label yourself as a bad person for reacting in this way. It is probably something you learned in childhood as a way to try to control confusing situations in your home life and at school.
Once we see demand sensitivity as being a behavioral tool that no longer serves us (if it ever did), then we can begin the process of releasing it. Don’t try to push it away or scold yourself when you realize you are being overly resistant to a “demand” or request from someone. Simply take a deep breath, remind yourself that you choose to be the one making right decisions for yourself, take some time to consider your options, and then reply. A great trick is to tell the other person, “Let me think about that and get back to you.” That helps avoid the hasty response that turns to regrets later.
As we grow and learn more about being authentic and healthy, these issues start falling away because the lesson the other person’s request offered has now been mastered.