In today’s world, it is not uncommon for women to be in positions of great power and responsibility. They often have more control in their career and relationships and are not as limited as previous generations were. This is not to say that this sense of inner empowerment has become the norm for all women.
Some will find it relatively easy to stand up for themselves and others won’t. Or it could only be a challenge when it comes to certain contexts and at other times it could be fine. But even if it is just a challenge in one area of a women’s life, it could affect their wellbeing and end up causing problems in other areas of their life.
Having the ability to say no is part of having healthy and functional boundaries. When these are not in place, one can end up saying yes when they should be saying no and saying no when it might be better to say yes.
To feel uncomfortable saying no is going to create challenges for a woman. What will feel comfortable will be to say yes or no when it is not in their best of interests. On the odd occasion this is unlikely to affect their wellbeing and yet it will be a problem when it has become a pattern in their life.
This could then be something they are aware of and notice on a regular basis or something that takes place out of their awareness. So at the time they may be out of touch with their true needs and after it has taken place, they soon realise that their response wasn’t right.
And upon reflection, they might begin to see that it is only affecting certain areas of their life or perhaps it is a general challenge they are experiencing.
If a woman is having difficulties in standing up for herself, it is clear the she will need to receive some kind of support or guidance. It is human nature to look towards others when it comes to how one should behave and in what is or is not appropriate in thought, word or deed.
However, even though some kind of help is needed, it doesn’t mean that it is available for the woman. This could be the result of being in environment where other women have the same problems.
Or they could observe other women standing up for themselves and think to themselves how it is not possible for them to do the same thing. These women could be classed as different in some way and as having something they do not have.
Perhaps the role that they play of being unable to say no in certain situations or in general has become their identity. There is then no thought about it being a choice, it is simply who they are and how life is.
So some women will have a certain area where they should say no and they don’t and others could have a whole life like this. And this can relate to the relationships they have with: family, colleagues, partner/lovers, their children and even with people they just meet.
When it comes to family, they might just allow them to walk all over them and end up endlessly compromising who they are. To stand up for themselves would cause them too much tension. And while they do suffer by not saying no, going along with what their family want seems easier.
If this is not a general problem, then it could relate to one or two areas. In these areas they feel wide-open and unstable to stand their ground.
This can also apply to a woman’s boss if they have one, as well as their colleagues and the people who are in the same working environment. If they are in a high level position or want to be saying no at the right times will be vital.
By being unable to say no, it could sabotage their chances of rising into a higher position or cause them to be walked over by their colleagues or boss. Frustration could ensue, as well as a feeling that one is not being respected and won’t achieve what they are capable of.
This could relate to a woman not wanting to engage in a certain sexual activities or something less intrusive, but a violation nevertheless. Doing what their partner wants is the norm and what they want is then secondary.
For some women this could include letting a man touch them when it is not appropriate. And in fulfilling a man’s sexual needs when that is not want they truly want. The man in question could be their partner/lover or someone they meet on a night out for instance.
On one level there is the need to say no and on another level it doesn’t feel safe to do so. Depending on what the situation is, it could be a matter of life or death. If a woman is with a man that is abusive, saying no could lead to serious problems.
But even if it is not as extreme as this, there might still be incredible anxiety and fear that arises. So it is highly likely that at some stage in this woman’s life she learnt that saying no and affirming her boundaries in general, was not safe. What was safe was to please another; even when it meant displeasing themselves.
While this could be a consequence of what has happened throughout their adult years, it is commonly due to how they were treated by their primary caregivers. What happens later is then just a reflection of these early years.
How their father treated them; their mother and the other women who were around at this time will have had a big impact.
At this time it may not have felt safe for the woman to stand up for herself and to embrace her own needs and wants; what felt safe was to go along with what her father wanted.
The Ego Mind
Their ego mind would have associated these experiences as what is familiar and therefore what is safe. And it won’t matter that these ways of behaving are not healthy or functional.
So as an adult, the woman will continue to recreate these early experiences. Either by: attracting people who mirror these associations or by projecting them onto people who don’t reflect the past.
Although time will have passed and the woman is no longer the child she once was; these experiences can remain in their body. This can be in the form of trapped emotions, feelings and sensations.
And as these are released from the body their ego mind will no longer associate saying no as being unsafe and familiar. One will begin to feel safe saying no and standing their ground.
This can be done with the assistance of a therapist or healer, who will allow one to get in touch with what is trapped in their body and gradually release it.
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 26 books, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.