5 Wrong Reasons to Say ‘Yes’

Learning to say ‘no’ was one of my greatest obstacles for having a joyful and authentic relationship. My struggle originated from my childhood where I had experienced dysfunctional relationships. As an adult, I repeated these unhealthy patterns in my romantic relationships. I often said ‘yes’ when I should have said ‘no’ and I gave in easily if my partner expressed different needs.

How often do you say ‘yes’ when you should say ‘no’?

Initially, I thought that it was the only way to show my partner that I loved him. However, I paid a price for being nice and submissive: I abandoned myself and lived up to my partner’s expectations. I also felt increasingly resentful towards my partner and myself. The longer the relationship lasted, the more frustrated I became. I lost self-respect and my sense of worthiness and my partner lost respect for me.

Do you experience a similar dynamic in your relationship?

Over the years, I noticed the negative impact of my behavior and decided to change this. I set my intention to become assertive and to be authentic in my responses to my partner’s requests. Achieving this goal wasn’t always easy. There were many voices in my head that motivated me to say ‘yes’ for the wrong reasons. It took me some time to understand the differences between saying a heartfelt ‘yes’ and saying ‘yes’ out of the wrong impulse.

Can you differentiate between a heartfelt ‘yes’ and a ‘yes’ out of a wrong reason?

If we grow up in dysfunctional families, we are likely to have learned a distorted truth about saying ‘no’ and we tend to say ‘yes’ due to the wrong reasons. Saying ‘no’ is often labeled as unloving, so we learn to deny us and put the other person first. This imbalance causes major problems in our relationship. The truth is you’re your needs and your partner’s needs are equally important. Here are five impulses that caused me to say ‘yes’ when I should have said ‘no.’

  1. Saying ‘yes’ because I wanted to receive more love.
    My inner child had learned that she would only receive love if she did what people asked her to do. She learned to say ‘yes’ to receive the love and attention she needed. As an adult, I learned to give my inner child the love she needed. I also understood that I can’t influence whether my partner loves me or not, I can just show up as I am and allow him to get to know the authentic me. Do you say ‘yes’ because you want to be loved and accepted?
  2. Saying ‘yes’ because I feared punishment.
    In my original family, there was a constant threat of being punished if I didn’t do what the adults wanted. As an adult, I had to use courage to say ‘no’ despite my fear of punishment because it was deeply rooted in my inner child. Do you say ‘yes’ out of fear of punishment?
  3. Saying ‘yes’ because I wanted to avoid conflicts.
    In my childhood, I experienced conflicts that were perpetuating and unsolvable. As a result, I avoided any type of conflict and gave in immediately if my partner wanted something different. It seemed an impossible task to stand up for my needs and find a solution. The first times that I stood up for myself I did it with shaking knees… but once again, to respect myself I had to learn to go through a conflict and to trust that we would find a solution that fits us both. Do you say ‘yes’ in order to avoid a conflict?
  4. Saying ‘yes’ out of guilt and shame.
    My family relationships were manipulative and based on guilt and shame to keep the family functioning. It took me many years to get completely rid of this dynamic. Guilt and shame are destructive emotions. If we say ‘yes’ based on guilt and shame, we tend to over-give and to deny ourselves by putting other people first. It took me some time to learn to say ‘no’ instead of ‘yes’ when I felt guilt or shame. However, it was an important step to fully reclaiming my power. Do you say ‘yes’ out of shame and guilt?
  5. Saying ‘yes’ out of any sense of duty or obligation.
    In my past relationship, I became a perfect cook even though I dislike cooking. I mainly did it because I thought it was my duty as a woman. What do you say ‘yes’ to out of duty and obligation?
    All those times when I said ‘yes’ out of the wrong reasons, I said silently ‘no’ to being me. I also said silently ‘no’ to my power and my joy. I now say a heartfelt ‘yes’ for the joy of giving, and I say ‘no’ whenever my inner voice tells me so.

What experience do you have with saying ‘no’?

I’d love to read your comments.

Copyright © 2016, Natalie Jovanic. All rights reserved.

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What if He Says, “I Don’t Love You”….?

He stood in front of me. He had brown eyes and an athletic body. It was six months since we had started our relationship. Now, he must say it. I waited for his words. I love you. I waited for these magical words. And then, he said, I like you, but I don’t love you. His words hurt me, deep in my heart. Part of me wanted to run away. My mind went crazy. It can’t be true, can it? How can he stay with me if he doesn’t love me? How can he have sex with me if he doesn’t love me? Another voice said, I just have to try harder. One day, he will love me.

Did you experience the same?

When he said that he liked me but wouldn’t love me, I was hurt, but it was the pain I knew. I stayed for the following nine years and found excuses. Poor guy, his ex-girlfriend has just left him. He doesn’t mean it this way. I secretly hoped that he would love me one day. He never did. I can’t remember how often he told me that he didn’t love me. Now, I know that I needed this experience to become aware of unconscious patterns that ruled my relationship. He was my first boyfriend. We had met shortly before my mother’s death. I was not yet an adult – and a product of a broken home.

How come that I stayed with him?

  • Repetition of the relationship with my father.
    The relationship with my father had always been conflictive. While one part of me rejected him, the other part yearned for my father’s love and appreciation. I tried hard to make him love me. And I did the same with my boyfriend. When I finally acknowledged that my father wasn’t able to give me the love I hoped for, I also left my boyfriend.
  • Negative beliefs I learned as a child.
    I considered myself of being unworthy of love. In a way, my boyfriend gave me the pain I expected. Who would ever love an abused child? I thought I didn’t deserve love. At this age, I was convinced that no man would ever love me. They were rooted in my identity. I never questioned their truth, and I had no idea that I had the power to change them.
  • Lack of knowledge about good relationships.
    I grew up in a manipulative and violent environment. Nobody had ever taught me how a good relationship looked like, and I didn’t know how to make a good choice. I was content that he wasn’t violent and didn’t beat me up. My childhood experiences shaped my reality. I didn’t know what to look for or ask for. I didn’t know that I could heal and change this. Sometimes, I wish they had taught me in school all I know now.

How come that you stay with him?

With all its pain, this relationship was a precious teacher in healing myself and defining a healthy and good vision of a relationship. It was an inner process that evolved over time.

What my most important learning was out of this relationship? A relationship needs two people who love each other. If my partner doesn’t love me, there is no reason to stay. I can’t make him love me, and it doesn’t make any sense to try. I can just be myself and show up as I am. Whether he loves me, is up to him.

What is your most important learning?

After this relationship, I defined a new rule for my romantic relationship: I leave my partner if he doesn’t love me. It doesn’t matter how much I love him. It doesn’t matter how he justifies it. I do this because I love myself. I do this because I deserve to be loved by a man.

How about you?

You liked this article? Then you also may like If love is painful.

Copyright © 2014, Natalie Jovanic. All rights reserved.

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Do You Have the Right to Cut Contact With Family Members?

The relationship with my father was always conflictive. Maybe it all started with my conception. While my father only wanted one child, my mother wanted two. To make her dream reality, she secretly stopped taking the pill and became pregnant again. She betrayed him. Her story was that my father went on holidays alone shortly after I was born. How does a man feel if he becomes a father of a child he never wanted? I assume it must have been difficult for him.

My parents separated when I was one and I saw him again two years later. The following two decades, I was torn between my infantile need to be approved by my father and rejecting him because of his manipulative personality traits. When I was 12, I cut contact with my father for the first time. His badmouthing about my mother’s family was too much. I saw him again when he got married to his 2nd wife four years later. I wished that he would stop blaming my mother now. But nothing changed. My mother died when I was 19, and I hoped that her death would put his mind at ease, sooner or later. The little girl within me still hoped to receive his approval. Eight years later, his torrent of hatred against my mother and her family persisted. It was unbearable to listen to him. His stories never changed.

Does a daughter have the right to cut contact with her father?

At that stage, I wasn’t sure. My father’s favorite bible quote was “You have to honor your father.” He used it each time when he wanted to impose his opinion on me. Sometimes I asked myself silently, and a father – is he supposed to honor his daughter?

One day, I finally woke up and acknowledged that he just wasn’t able to approve me. I was sick and tired of his repetitive stories and his unforgiving attitude. I cut contact with him. It wasn’t easy or comfortable, but it felt right. It was not for his sake, but for mine. Even though, I didn’t know it at that time, it was one of the most caring acts I ever did for myself.

Do you have the right to cut contact with your parents?

I faced many opinions. Some people looked at me disapprovingly; a couple of counselors told me that I had to meet him and hug him to be able to forgive him. Other therapists approved it and told me that I had to find the right distance to be at peace with him. I felt confused by the different opinions. Was it right what I had done?

Who knows what’s right or wrong?

Each opinion reflected the perspective the other person had, their story and their values. How much did they know about my experience and my inner process that led to my decision? Not much.

Years after I cut contact, I still had a secret address so that my father couldn’t find me. But one day, he did. I called a police officer from the victim’s department, and she phoned him. Later, she told me that he would insist on having the right to see me. She asked me whether I would be willing to do so. I said, no. I just wanted to have my freedom. She continued: I have many years of experience with victims of violence. I know that you have every reason to fear him. It was the first time that somebody outside my family confirmed my truth about him, and her comment helped me to believe in my intuition and release my doubts.

You can’t choose your family and, as a child, you get used to accepting what is. However, as an adult you can choose how you want to relate to them. You are not obliged to stay in a situation that is toxic for you. You have the right to find the distance you need to protect yourself. You even have the right to cut contact. Trust your inner voice because the only person who knows the correct answer is you. You don’t owe anybody an explanation. You don’t need anybody’s approval. The only thing you need to take into account that cutting contact is just a step on your journey.

My ties with my father didn’t end with ending the relationship. It was one important step that allowed me to heal my relationship with him, to forgive and heal my heart. In a way, he’s now closer to me than he has ever been in my life. Sometimes, the best option to love somebody is without having a relationship with him.

Whatever decision you are facing, I know that you will make the right choice for yourself and your life.

I’d love to hear from you. Just leave a comment below.

Do you want to read more? Check the post Love and Freedom.

Copyright © 2014, Natalie Jovanic. All rights reserved.

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What if You Are In An Emotionally Abusive Relationship?

It’s like a dream. I always wanted to be together with an independent woman like you are. And now I’ve met you. He said this after we had talked intensively about our lives. And he was right. It had been a beautiful start for a relationship. I thought that he was honest. And this stage, I had no reason to doubt his words. When I met a friend, she said, you should see your face when you talk about him, it is full of light. She was happy for my luck.

The relationship seemed to continue in a good direction. We planned our future and made many activities together. Then, I went away for a weekend. I attended a wedding of a friend. When I returned, he picked me up at the airport. I was excited to see him, and saw a man with a different face. He started to argue. Each day, he found another thing I didn’t do right. First, I was confused. Then, I became angry because I didn’t want to be treated like this. I gave him a warning. He apologized and promised to change. The next day, he continued with the same manipulative game. My inner voice said, it’s time to go. This situation isn’t loving for you at all. And so I did on the same day.

The game of manipulation lasted ten dreadful days. I didn’t doubt my decision to leave him for a moment. There is one rule I have for relationships: No to any form of violence – and manipulation is violence. It took me years to learn the difference because my family relationships have all been emotionally abusive. I believed for many years that they were as relationships were supposed to be until I became a different perspective. As an adult, I can choose relationships, and I owe it to myself to choose relationships that are nurturing and loving.

He couldn’t believe it. He waited for me in a park where I volunteered to feed a colony of abandoned cats. He wanted another chance; he promised to change. Just give me a month, he said, and I rejected. The next week, I sat in my monthly training for healing techniques. The doorbell rang. My spiritual teacher went outside and came back with a huge bouquet of flowers. She had a smile on her face and said, It’s for you. I had just told her the story about him. And he knew that I loved her and that she had a big heart. I had never received such a beautiful bouquet of flowers before in my life, and it was the last thing I wanted to receive. I felt angry because he didn’t respect that the relationship was over. I felt humiliated because I had fallen in love with a manipulative man. I looked at her and said, I don’t want them. She looked at me appalled and said, you can’t do this. They are awesome. Her soft heart was speaking. I looked at her and said, you know that they come with the wrong intention, don’t you? Living compassionately doesn’t mean that I allow somebody to manipulate me. She sighed, you’re right. She took the flowers home, and I sent him a message that I didn’t want the flowers and that he should never contact me again. When he ignored it another time, I asked a friend who was a lawyer for help. She called him and told him to leave me alone. That’s how I got rid of him.

Even though I wasn’t responsible for his manipulative behavior, it took me a while to release shame, guilt and humiliation. I analyzed our relationship again and again, and I couldn’t find any signs in the beginning. They appeared when he felt secure of the relationship. The relationship lasted three months, but I needed about two years to forgive myself for having fallen in love with him.

You can’t choose who you fall in love with but you can decide whether you want to stay in this relationship. You have the right to leave. Emotional abuse leaves deep wounds on your soul, eats away your sense of worthiness and your belief in yourself. His promises may sound sweet and tempting but don’t fall into them. They are part of the game. When I told this story to a friend, she said, I admire your decision. I don’t know whether I would have been able to leave him. The thing is that it’s not about how much you love him. It’s also not about him and what he is doing. It’s about you and whether you respect and value yourself sufficiently to say no to emotional abuse. You may have had harsh experiences in your life. I had them. You can’t choose how you start your life, but you have a tremendous potential to heal and transform your reality. To tap into this potential, you have to connect with your inner voice and learn to appreciate and love yourself. That’s the best protection of violent relationships and the most empowering act for yourself. And it’s a sign of strength to ask for professional help if you can’t do it alone. Manipulation and emotional abuse is a dead end for love. And what if you love him? I prefer to love without having a relationship if the person is manipulative. This way, I respect and value myself.

How about you? I’d love to read your comments below.

Do you want to read more? Check the article How to become a modern heroine.

Copyright © 2014, Natalie Jovanic. All rights reserved.

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6 Ways How You Can Deal With Negative People

Do you have friends who always complain about everything? Or do you know the perfect drama queen who always runs from one catastrophe into the other? Or the poor victim who always ends up in the dark corner left alone?

During my life, I have met many negative people, it all started with close family members. To give you some examples: The partner of my late grandfather was a woman who always saw the negative. Once, we watched an inspiring story about a former athlete who had rebuilt his life after an accident with spinal cord injury. He was a role model for strength and positive attitude. She watched the report without a word. When it had finished, she said: Why haven’t the doctors let him die after this accident? I sat next to her and didn’t know what to say. Every phrase she said reflected her negative perception of the world. I tried my best to cheer her up and change her perspective. Needless to say that it wasn’t successful. I left our conversations feeling exhausted and tired.

We all face short periods of negativity in our life, however, a person who transmits constant pessimism can drag you down.

What can you do to avoid this?

These six tactics will help you to decrease the impact of negative people in your life.

  • Be aware of the negativity and acknowledge its influence.
    The negativity of another person will influence you dependent on your level of sensitivity. I am highly sensitive and take on negativity like a sponge. I tried to tell myself many years that it wouldn’t influence me and it was wrong. True is that it always did until I learned to set boundaries. What happens if you are around negative people? How do you feel after you have been together with them? How is your level of energy afterwards? Be aware of the impact the negativity has on yourself and acknowledge it.
  • Set clear limits.
    If you acknowledge the negativity, you can react in a way that is compassionate towards yourself. We want to be kind, and this means that we are kind to others while being kind to ourselves. You should manage your energy level well. Limit the duration you are together with a negative person, see them or talk to them less frequent. How often do you want to be around with them? How long do you want to stay with them? Always keep in mind that you can’t change the negative attitude of another person. They have to decide that they want to change. You can only take care of yourself and your energy, and avoid to getting drowned by their negativity.
  • Clear yourself energetically.
    I experienced a fast recovery from negativity when I learned to clear myself energetically. How can you do this? If you have been together with a negative person, do a short visualization afterwards. Close your eyes and take some deep breaths. Imagine that you stand in a shower with white light. The light washes away any negativity from your body into the earth. Visualize dark or grey shadows that slowly sink into the earth. Continue with your visualization until the white light fills your complete body. Thank the light for its help. Feel free to change the visualization in a way that it feels right for you. Just listen to your intuition.
  • Explore the other person’s world.
    A very compassionate strategy you can use is to explore the other person’s world. Which stories are hidden behind the negative attitude? What are the hidden desires that haven’t been fulfilled yet? Strive to understand them. Explore their world with love and compassion. Listen to them, don’t judge them and don’t try to find a solution. Mirror them what you understood. Reflect the pain or the resentment you may perceive.
  • Acknowledge the difference.
    Another way to deal with negativity is to acknowledge the difference. There is no need that we all have the same opinion. That’s not possible. So just say, I think we see life very differently. I want to celebrate it. I want to enjoy it fully. You can’t control what they will do and you can’t convince them to follow you. You can just stay true to yourself.
  • You always have a choice.
    We are all adults. We can choose with whom we are spending our time. We are also responsible for the energy we send into the world. If the negativity of a person persists for years and there is no change, you don’t have any obligation to spend your time with them. You can’t change them. Practice compassion towards yourself. Is it compassionate to continue this relationship? Stop finding excuses for the other person’s behavior. Everybody went through some crisis. I am sure you also had bad times in your life. Each of us is responsible how we deal with negative experiences and what attitude we choose towards life. Your time is limited and valuable. You have the choice to walk away from the relationship. You can choose whether you spend it with positive or negative people. With whom do you want to spend your time?

What are your experiences with negative people? I’d love to read your comments below.

Do you want to read more about this theme? Check the article Do you have the right to cut contact with family members?

Copyright © 2014, Natalie Jovanic. All rights reserved.

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4 Easy Ways To Say No

Some time ago, a friend asked me, “You have to come to our karaoke party this Saturday. I miss you.” I hate karaoke parties, and I knew that I would need time to relax. One voice in my head told me, “You are egoistic. You have to be there. Be nice!” The other one said, “I just don’t want to.” In the past, I would have gone to a party where I felt at the wrong place all the time, and I would have felt drained. Now I simply said, “No, I can’t.”

Do you fear to say “no”? Do you want to be nice to others? Do you fear conflicts?
If you struggle with saying “no,” don’t worry, you are not alone. Many times the difficulties exist due to learnings in our childhood. Were you allowed to say “no” as a child? How did your family use it? How did people react to it? As a child, I learned that “no” was a word that I wasn’t allowed to use, and that it might provoke a punishment. As an adult, I feared that the other person would either reject me or explode in a rage of anger, so I had major difficulties to say “no”. Was it good for me to say “yes” even though I should have said “no”? No, it wasn’t. I abandoned myself and lost the focus in my life because I tried to please other people. Furthermore, I made the activities with resentment like a recalcitrant horse because I didn’t enjoy them. Then, I learned to respect my needs and to say no.
The voices of fear and guilt are inappropriate advisors, and they shouldn’t be your motivation to decide what you are doing. There is a difference between doing things because you have to do them or because you want to do them. How often do you do things because you feel obliged to do them? How often do you please others? If you try to please others at the expense of yourself, you are not nice to you at all.

Healthy boundaries are a key for healthy relationships!
If you say “no” to what you don’t want, you respect your boundaries and priorities. You can’t control how the other person will react or how they will feel about it. You can just take care of your needs and priorities. If you start to respect your needs and your boundaries and say “no” when you want to, other people will get to know you in an honest and authentic way. Honesty is the key. Learning to say “no” is a healthy habit that will improve your relationships. Try out different occasions and find a way to say “no” that makes you feel comfortable!

How can you say “no”?
Here are four effective ways that helped me to learn it:

A simple “no” without any explanation is enough.
Say gently and firmly: “No, I can’t.” That’s it. There is no need to be aggressive or angry. You have the right to say “no” and you do not owe the other person an explanation.
“I don’t know yet, I’ll think about it. I’ll let you know tomorrow, next week,… ”
This way helped me when I felt pressured and gave me the time to become aware what I wanted. Use this method with people you have difficulties with or if you do not yet know what you want. Then, tell them your answer. Nobody can oblige you to do something that you do not want to do.
If the other person insists, repeat it.
Especially, if they are not used to it, it is likely that other persons insist on what they want, or they simply ignore your answer. In this case, repeat your answer firmly. Don’t capitulate. You don’t have to explain it, just repeat it.
“No, I can’t but what do you think about… “
Say no, and make a counter proposal that fits with your need. Your friend wants to meet you this weekend and you can’t? Make a proposal for a day when it is convenient for you or propose another activity you prefer. Don’t give in but start to negotiate a solution that fits you both.

The more you practice, the more comfortable you will feel. Start with an option that feels right for you and play with it. See it as an adventure on your journey. Saying “no” and respecting your boundaries will increase your self-esteem and self-confidence. You will experience a higher degree of contentment because you allow yourself to do what you really want. Live your life in an assertive way, respecting your needs and the needs of others.

Would you like to give it a try?

I love to read your comments below!

Do you want to read more? Check the post Do you know your rights in a relationship?

Copyright © 2014, Natalie Jovanic. All rights reserved.

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