I’ve been having some really vivid dreams lately. Last night’s was particularly so, and is still fresh on my mind. I was being attacked. The details were unclear, but the threat was not. I have had similar dreams off and on throughout the years. But last night’s was decidedly different.
In the past when I had this kind of dream, I would try to yell at my attacker, but the words came out slow and garbled, as though I had taken a triple dose of Benadryl, completely unintelligible. Another version of the dream featured me having no ability to make sound at all. I could open my mouth and try as hard as I liked, but no sound came out. Really horrifying. My dear husband usually woke me up from these as, unlike the dream, I was making quite a lot of very horrible and scary noises.
In last night’s dream, for the first time in my adult life, when faced with the threat of attack, I yelled at my attacker with a clear assertive “No!” And I didn’t stop there. I added a sentence or two clearly defining my space and the need for him to stay out of it. And then, in further unprecedented steps, as I moved away from the attacker, who was seemingly stunned by my verbal superpowers, I called out clearly and loudly for help. I had never even tried to call for help in the old version of this dream.
What happened in the dream? As soon as I called out for help, I was in a building, the incident seemingly forgotten, getting ready to have dinner with an old friend who I haven’t seen in years.
There’s a lot here to be sure, and I just may have to enlist a coaching buddy to walk me through a dream analysis, but I don’t need any help to see the magic of the change from a victim incapable of expressing the most critical boundary to a person who not only says no, but asks for help. This saying no and asking for help has not been my way in the past. It is a new stance in my waking life and it is not just a powerful stance, but one that is somewhat miraculous.
What I’ve learned about saying No:
- Nobody actually expects that I can do everything that is asked of me.
- People don’t actually get angry or disappointed like I thought they would. They seem to realize that “No” is a plausible answer to their request.
- When I say “No,” I am shaping the requests that will come to me in the future. I’m communicating to people (usually ones I care about) what my priorities are, what I am able and willing to do, and what would be best done by someone else.
- Saying “No” gets so much easier with practice. Sometimes you don’t even need to explain… I know, the horror.
- Saying “No”periodically radically increases the chances that you will do more of what you want, intend, and need to do in order to make your own life closer to what you want it to be.
What I’ve learned about asking for help:
- Nobody else thinks I “should” be able to do everything by myself.
- Most people like to help. Provided the request I make is of a reasonable size, people seem perfectly happy to take a few minutes to do something that will help me.
- People appreciate being able to help others that they care about. When I ask someone for help, I am showing them trust, intimacy, and being vulnerable in front of them. This creates closeness and warmth.
- Asking for help gets so much easier with practice. Sometimes you don’t even need to explain…
- Asking for help periodically radically increases the chances that you will do more of what you want, intend, and need to do in order to make your own life closer to what you want it to be.
How good are you at no and help? When you should say no or ask for help, do your words and thoughts get garbled, do you stop making sense, do you lose your voice or just keep it all inside because you don’t want to bother anyone or because you figure it’s just easier to handle it all yourself? How would your days be different if you practiced a little “No” and “Help”? How much easier would it be for you to honor your own intentions, your own purposes, your own life if you just added a little “No” and “Help”? Something come to mind? Can you think of one thing you could say no to or ask for help with? Share it in the comments for a little practice!