• Shelley Lowther

I Don't Need Your Approval

Updated: Feb 6, 2019

Even Spiritual Warriors Need Boundaries

Yoga teaches us to be open and vulnerable and in service. Like Mother Teresa famously said, the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in service to others. Yoga teaches this as seva, or selfless service. Bhakti. But in all of the heart-opening and vulnerability I was learning, there was a key component missing.

I’m talking about BOUNDARIES, y’all. Sometimes you gotta say NO to others so that you can say YES to yourself. As yogis and particularly as women, we have been taught that it is our purpose to care for others. That we should be nice. That we shouldn't ruffle feathers. That confrontation isn't yogic. (Ever heard this one? "Why are you mad, I thought you practiced yoga?" UGH.)

Now if you ask me, this is a bunch of patriarchal bullshit, but let's break it down into real, practical talk. Are you listening? If you don't start taking better care of yourself right now, you are not ever going to be any good for anyone.

Now that we have established that you have to take care of yourself, I have a really scary question to ask you: What do you want?

There is no right or wrong answer to this question. Regardless of how you answer, I have an important piece of advice. Don’t ever trade your authenticity for approval. Make sure that no matter HOW you answer that question, you answer it honestly for yourself. The short term benefits of feeling “liked” are not worth the long-term costs of going against yourself. If you want to live an amazing, badass life, you can't keep trying to make other people happy.

For a long time, I tried to please everyone and make everyone like me. It has caused me a lot of heartache and unhappiness. I fell into friendships and relationships that were inauthentic because they were based in complaint or in doing things for others that were not in alignment with ME. Confession? I actually *still* do this when I’m not listening to myself!

In other words— I confused service with people-pleasing and it really fucked me up. Being in service to other people does NOT require a sacrifice of my happiness— but I didn’t know this yet. I had not discovered boundaries.

One of the problems I kept running into was that I would say yes to people over and over again even when it wasn’t in my interest to do so. It got me into trouble emotionally, energetically, and financially. And when I finally said NO, the relationship would implode.

We have all experienced this. We let someone when love or trust walk all over us, and when we finally get the courage to say no, they do not like it. "How can you do that to me?," they ask. "Why won't you do this for me? Don't you care about me?" When you say no after weeks or months or years of saying yes, people do not like it. They often turn to manipulation, and if that doesn't work, anger.

One of my default ways of thinking is that I am unlovable. I created a story that people only come to me because they want something from me. Because I was failing to set boundaries, my relationships were proving this to me over and over again!

Without boundaries, my feelings get hurt over and over again. I get disappointed or feel taken advantage of over and over again. I take it, say nothing and then ..... BOOM! Explosion. Relationship meltdown. Crisis.

Here's the thing. Sometimes, you have to say NO to people. No, I can not do that for you. No, I can not be that for you. No. It really doesn't matter if they like it or not. It really doesn't matter if they like YOU or not. Frankly if your relationship ends because you say no, they are not your people.

Saying "no" to others is often the first step in saying yes to yourself.

So open your heart. Get vulnerable. Be squishy and yogic and sing kumbaya at the top of your lungs. But set some damn boundaries. You don't have to be a doormat, and you don't need to please anyone but yourself.

I'd love to hear about all the "no" you get up to. DM me. Email me. Tell me all about it. And may each no be the first step in discovering how fucking awesome you are.

Havana, Cuba. Photo by Kelsey Schulz

About Shelley

Shelley Lowther wants you to live an extraordinary, ridiculous life of magic and badassery.


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