I am 38 and somewhere in the back of my head I think that when I reach 40 I will be able stop. And by stop I mean stop making decisions based on other people’s opinions of me, stop questioning what I say, stop doubting myself and stop beating myself up by feeling not good enough. STOP!

Basically, I am waiting for the time and age when I can start answering only to myself. Does this ever happen?

If I were so bold to give myself a compliment, it would be that I actually have good instincts. I have a very strong gut and my Dear Husband would actually say that I am brazen at times. However, not many people see this side of me. In fact, I usually let my smiley, give-the-shirt-off-my-back, steam-roll-over-me-if-you-need-to-because-I-don’t-mind self be shown. I thought that was what I was meant to do as a good girl and a good Christian.


The Jesus I am now learning about had good boundaries, often put the brakes on and didn’t let himself be steam-rolled. Generous, yes. A push over, no. NO!

Just to be even more transparent here, my fear is that if I am so bold to say things like, “No, that doesn’t work for me” or “No, I don’t want to do that” or “No, I see things differently,” then people will abandon me. I’m truly afriad that if I am not aligned with another’s thinking then I will be left with no friends, no family, no support. This has actually happened many times to me with people that were born to support me and the residue is real and painful. I’m still not over it. But, that does not mean that this is how the rest of the world works.

Resentment always rears his ugly head when I choose a path that my gut is not saying yes to. I will play along for a while and smile through it, but if I know it is not a good fit for me then after a while I will get, well, pissed. I am just too scared when I FEEL off to SAY I feel off. Often times my feeling does not match up with my doing and¬†I often get lost when I start¬†thinking about other’s feelings over my own. That’s what’s going on. I’m scared to let out that little feeling because I don’t always think I have a good enough reason. I know in my head that any reason is good enough. But, I tend to believe that if I do not have the best reason then I should just go with the flow. Like I have to be bleeding on the street to feel justified in saying no. Like I have to be in labor. OH! That actually happened and the people that I aligned myself to never came to save me. So, hmmmm, the conclusion is: not speaking my mind really does not keep me safe.

Anyone else out there know what I’m talking about?

When does this stop? I kid, but I am hoping it just stops all together at 40 and I can say “Screw it. I’m going to listen to myself.” I am practicing. I am working up to it. I am trying to carve out a different, healthier way of living. It is the repetition that I fight against, the abuse and now the self-abuse. Every day is a battle field and I show up ready to fight.




  1. I am 44. I have felt just as you do. When you write honestly, allowing us into your head and your “guts”, it is brave and it is a gift. I have been in therapy for the past 2 years and I can say that it is a continual journey. Stepping out of the dance that has been my whole life up until now has made everyone uncomfortable. To say “I’m going to sit this out; I’m not playing that part any more; no thanks” disrupts everyone else’s place in the dance too. I have realized that for me, the big shift happened when I began to see my value, my equality with all other humans; that is when I ceased to tolerate mistreatment and assert my own preferences and just plain old stand up for myself.
    Keep it up Christen. You ARE changing, and you will continue to grow stronger in your own place, on your own feet.

  2. YES! YES! YES! To all of what you’ve said here. I am a people pleaser, my sisters are people pleasers, to the detriment of our own families and selves. I’m a bit older than 40 and still find it so hard to say no to those things I know I don’t want or cannot do. I’m not sure it’s age – I think it’s more your place in your life. Having all kids in school for the second year now, I still get “What are you going to do with your time now?” as if my going to the gym, helping out at school 3x a week, getting new fence estimates, paying all the bills, planning all family activities and vacations, grocery shopping, cleaning the house every day, etc. isn’t enough. I sometimes wish I had a personal assistant to screen all requests I should just say no to… I will strive to be more selective but it helps to hear I’m not alone in this situation…

  3. Hi,
    I felt just like you when I was your age. However, my DH taught me a saying that has helped me tremendously since then. The saying is, “Don’t mistake my kindness for weakness.” I would like to say that by forty I was able to express myself authentically, but it took me a little longer. I actually arrived at that point when my daughter graduated college and started living on her own. Now I was home and had more time to focus on what was important to me. Learning to say no without giving an explanation why was my first giant step. Before, I always felt like I had to give a reason why if I told someone no when he or she requested something. It felt great to say no and leave it at that. I was also always afraid that if I started living my own authentic life that I might lose my husband and daughter. That didn’t happen either. We have been married twenty six years, and he is not going anywhere, nor am I. I have finally found my voice in my fifties, and it feels so good to be doing the things that make me happy. As a disclaimer, I must admit that I came from a very abusive childhood, and I spent many, many years working through my issues and breaking the cycle of abuse. Because of that, it was hard for me to voice what I needed to be happy. Even though mentally I knew I deserved all the good the universe had to offer, in my heart I had a hard time believing it. I am still a work in progress, but I am so much happier today. I am doing things that make me happy, I am expressing myself in ways I never dreamed possible, and I am a much better mom and wife than I was when I was too afraid to let others know what I needed. I hope you, too, find yourself able to express what you need to be happy in life. We really are here such a short time, and it’s not worth letting another day go by without being your authentic self. I remember all too well those days of resentment when I couldn’t bring myself to express what I needed. It’s kind of like building up a muscle. Start small. Express something small that has been bugging you. When you have success with the small thing, it will give you the courage to express something larger. As you practice this, your muscle will get bigger and stronger. I hope you don’t wait until your fifties to do what I wish I had done when I was your age. You have every right to be happy in this life, so I hope you get started today. Don’t wait any longer! You are worth it!!

  4. When I was in my 30’s, I always worried about what others were thinking of me. I was always a “yes” person to many requests and usually regretted commitments later. Then I would beat myself up for putting others before myself. Somewhere in my early 40’s I realized how to say “no” to people. But then I would feel like I wasn’t being a nice person, and that they wouldn’t like me. One day, I saw a program on TV discussing how to quit being a “people pleaser” and learn to please myself. They said if you can’t say no to someone immediately, then at least say “let me think about it, and I’ll get back to you.” It was that EASY! I started doing it the next day and continue to do so. I’m in my late 50’s now and it was a big relief! And again EASY! This gets you off the hook and allows you time to consider whatever the request is. And then you can give a quick, firm reply if you don’t want to do something that will be too time consuming or just something you would rather not do. If you are struggling to just handle your own life, and these days it is complicated, then that’s all you should do. Let everyone else deal with their own needs. It sounds like you are a very compassionate and good person. Take care of yourself first and don’t worry what others will think. They will probably just turn to someone else for help without a thought. P.S. Don’t wait until you turn 40. Tomorrow is just as EASY!

  5. Totally get what you’re describing. Love the acronym for GUT, as in trusting yours:
    God Uttering Truth. Years of 12 step Al Anon program along with Brene Brown and a few others along the way, taught me how to stop people pleasing and listen to my wants and needs. Setting those boundaries was hard at first, but I’ve come a long way and life is much better! It is now my default with a slip every now and then! Hang in, you’re on your way!

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