An excerpt from Start Right Where You Are by Sam Bennett
As the creator of The Organized Artist Company, bestselling author Sam Bennett’s mission in life is clear: to assist people in getting unstuck by helping them focus and move forward on their goals.
That is also the intention of her new book Start Right Where You Are: How Little Changes Can Make a Big Difference for Overwhelmed Procrastinators, Frustrated Overachievers, and Recovering Perfectionists, which is based on the premise that small shifts in the right direction can yield big results in the realization of our creative dreams. We hope you’ll enjoy this short excerpt from the book.
Are you the person everyone calls when they need something? Are you asked to be on every committee and every advisory board? Do you often find yourself letting people “pick your brain” or call you “just to vent”? If so, you may be suffering from Cantsayno syndrome.
Cantsayno syndrome causes its victims to agree to things they don’t want to do, be accommodating to those who don’t deserve it, and to fail utterly at putting themselves and their own work first. Symptoms include a stomach in knots, beleaguered sighs, and the deep-seated concern that if you were to say no, people wouldn’t like you anymore.
We’re tribal animals. We are very sensitive to the needs of the group because we know that we cannot survive alone. As much as we might wish everyone would just go away sometimes, our animal brain tells us that we must stay in the good graces of the group, or we will die. So most of the behavior that you might call people pleasing is part of your excellent survival mechanism. You don’t want to be perceived as being greedy or selfish, or taking up too many resources — that might get you kicked out of the group. You want to be well liked. You want to contribute as much as you can to the tribe. That’s just good sense.
It’s not low self-esteem that’s got you trapped, and it’s not that you’re a wimp. You are just letting your survival mechanism run the show when your survival is not actually at stake.
You were raised to be a nice person. You were raised to share your toys, keep your voice down, and not snatch the frosting off your birthday cake and eat it with your bare hands. Guess what? It worked. All that socializing worked. You are a very nice person. So you can stop proving it all the time.
Right now, the way you constantly monitor your behavior is like rereading the driver’s manual every time you get in the car. Not every moment of your life has to be a testament to your niceness. You can afford to be a bit not nice, to keep your toys to yourself, to yell and scream a bit, and to make a mess of that cake. Go for it.
If you stop giving your life over to whatever person or organization is sucking you dry, you’ll find that they won’t actually throw you out, and even if they do throw you out, it will probably feel like a relief. Either way, I’m pretty confident you won’t be put out on an ice floe.
If it feels like too big a stretch to simply decline, you can try this: the next time someone asks you to do something that you don’t want to do, just tell them that I won’t let you. Yep. Just say, “Oh, gosh, Jerry, I would love to help run rehearsals for the talent show, but I’m working with this consultant named Sam, and she just will not let me take on any additional projects. If it were up to me, I would be happy to do it, of course, but I daren’t — Sam would just have my head.”
See? Easy. Make me the heavy.
Little Changes Action Step: Politely decline something today.
Sam Bennett is the author of Start Right Where You Are and Get It Done. She created The Organized Artist Company to help creative people get unstuck and achieve their goals. She is a writer, actor, teacher, and creativity/productivity specialist who has counseled thousands of artists and entrepreneurs on their way to success. Visit her online at startrightwhereyouare.com.
Excerpted from Start Right Where You Are. Copyright © 2016 by Sam Bennett. Printed with permission from New World Library.
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