We are afraid to say no. We are afraid to hurt someone's feelings. We are afraid to cause a scene. We are afraid to be seen as demanding, mean, selfish, petty. So we say nothing. We endure. We stuff and stuff, squashing down resentment. We tell ourselves it's not that important, let it go.
And we suffer. We don't say no to a relationship that no longer is healthy or supportive or joyful because we don't want to hurt our partner's feelings. We don't tell our daughter it's time to get a job, pay for her own car insurance and cell phone -- or move out -- because we are afraid she will get angry or call us a bad mother. We smile and say yes to carpooling or baking cupcakes or taking care of our sister's children even though we'd rather put our feet up and watch an episode of "Say Yes to the Dress" and eat cake.
And we get sick. How much illness is caused by us being unable -- or not knowing how - to say no or enough or not now or maybe even never? How many people, often women, are told to be nice when they really want to say, "No, dammit, no!" Too many.
Here's the simple antidote - which is easy to hear, and a lifelong journey to implement: boundaries. It starts with tapping into ourselves when we feel uncomfortable and believing we owe it to ourselves to listen to that voice. It's the voice that says, "This is not right for me. It may be right for 100 other people, but it's not right for me." It's not an angry voice or an entitled voice. It's a voice of self-respect and knowingness and calm. A voice that says, "I'm ready to take care of myself."