Not long ago I burned the side of my neck with a curling iron. OMGosh that is a tender spot! And I knew based on the pain, the smell of flesh, and an aging décolletage that it was definitely going to leave a mark. And it did. And it looked just like a hickey. Oh brother. My teenage daughters were like, “Hey mom, what’s that? And then as they moved in for a closer look, they asked, “Is that a….hickey?” I could tell by the dread in their eyes, that they desperately to hear me say no. Which I did. Does anyone want to see their mother with a hickey?
When I saw my friends later that day I told them about the burn before they could even ask. I didn’t want them wondering about me too. And when I got a massage a couple of days later I tried to be strong and ignore the burn but when the massage therapist asked “That mark on your neck, will it be sore if I touch it?” I immediately moved in with my answer: “No, it won’t be sore. And no, I am NOT living a racy life. That’s not a hickey. I’m not that kind of girl. Blah, blah, blah, I just burned my neck on my curling iron.” Very calmly he uttered “Don’t worry. There’s no judgment here, ” and I was humiliated.
Why couldn’t I have just responded with a simple No? Why did I need to explain? Why did I care what this guy thought? I thought I was farther along than I thought.
Do you ever do this? Overexplain, overclarify or overjustify?
If so, you may have a teensy issue with people pleasing because people pleasers always feel like they have to give a reason for everything they do.
Here’s what it looks like:
You get a call to help out as a volunteer at school, work, church, you name it. You can’t do it. Fear sets in because now someone might be mad at you, or think less of you, or call you lazy and selfish behind your back. So you launch into a 15 minute diatribe on why you can’t do it. You rattle on and on about your hard life and your overcrowded calendar (sometimes embellishing for the sake of effect) until the caller understands and either rescinds the offer or approves of your No, which you never really stated directly. By the time you get off the phone you have shared more information about your life than you ever meant to. But at least now, you have successfully managed someone’s opinion of you. And you try to forget the TMI.
So what’s a girl to do?
Become a Woman of Mystery.
You can hold something back. You can be mysterious and still be authentic. You do not have to expose your whole heart to be real, especially when your revelations are motivated by a desire to gain approval, be liked or be seen in a certain way. Image management is usually at the heart of TMI.
If a woman of mystery received the same volunteer request she would simply say “I’m sorry, but I’ll have to decline.” Direct and respectful. No explanation needed. And yet
Did you notice that she didn’t go into extreme detail. She didn’t insert commentary. She might have answered a follow-up question to her No with kindness and respect but she didn’t give the farm away in order to stand firm.
The caller would probably be left dazed and confused by the lack of propaganda, especially if she is used to people pleasing women or is herself a people pleaser, because most of us gals don’t like women of mystery.
- We want others to prove why they can’t say Yes to us.
- We want to know the reason behind their No and it better be good.
- But mostly we resent the freedom of a woman of mystery to say No without explanation because we don’t enjoy that same freedom.
And yet we can. That same freedom is available to all of us. We can know our purpose and values and live them out through our choices. We can say Yes or No even if it disappoints people. Do you know that 60% of Christians don’t know their calling or their purpose so they live off purpose, pressured, exhausted, resentful, and overwhelmed? That is a crime. And it is not the life that God longs for us to live.
So get out there and embrace your mystery. Today you are a woman of mystery. You can make choices based on the voice of God, your values, and your purpose rather than the opinions of others.
As a life coach I help women articulate their values and understand their unique purpose so they can live a satisfying, Godly, and peaceful life free from demands of others. If you would like to find out more about a coaching relationship, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.