Who is in charge?

Have you ever gone to an all you can eat buffet and noticed that some people load their plates down and others are very selective about what they put on their plates?  Why doesn’t everyone just pile their plates high?  Some people have been taught that it is wrong to take a lot on their first pass through the buffet.  Others may not be that hungry and decide to only take what they can eat.  Still others might be on a diet and avoiding certain categories of foods high fat, carbohydrates or meat.  Any of these approaches are fine as long as the person choosing the food is making a conscious decision about their choices.

What if someone else is putting food on your plate?  I’m sure many of us have seen parents making the choices for their children, putting broccoli and carrots on a plate for a child who would have preferred sweets and pastries.  We may have even seen people being restrained by their spouses from making the food choices they most wanted.

Who is making the decisions for you? If it is someone other than you, there is a problem. Let’s look at what people who are in charge of their plate at the buffet and by extension their lives know.

1. The Power of No

Stop people from putting things on your plate that you don’t want by saying no.  It might be non-confrontational to let people give you a lot of tasks to do that will help them out. You might  feel lucky to be included, or grateful for any scrap of positive attention that comes your way.  Are you afraid of hurting feelings by being non-compliant? Then you may not realize that life is not just full of take it or leave it choices.  You can actually say, “No,” “Not today,” or “If I do that, will you do this?” when someone asks you to do something.

Only when you have a real no, do you have a real yes.
You need to have a goal and a plan you are committed to and when you worry about doing your best work rather than making other people happy, you can say no without guilt. By the way, when you stop being so helpful, don’t be surprised when the people who took advantage of you before won’t be happy. They will either adjust or you might choose to move to a new situation where you can establish new rules.

2. Ask for what you want

Many buffets have a carving station.  Picture that the chef has a ham, a roast beef, pork chops and chicken.   You can have any or all choices.  Do you tell the chef what you want?  Or do you let the chef decide what to give you?  The chef has no way of knowing what you like so he most likely will either give you want he has the most of or what ever is easiest to give you. Be in charge of your plate. When you see something that interests you, you need to ask for it.

Nora Ephron was quoted by Mika  Brenzinski in her book  Knowing Your Value as saying, “You can’t expect men to take us seriously if we don’t take ourselves seriously.  That is just the truth.  It would be sweet if they did, and we didn’t have to do anything.”

Take yourself seriously and ask for what you want.  Don’t expect other people to read your mind and know what will make you happy. Don’t try to read theirs and pick what makes them happy.

3. Know when to say when

Sometimes something looks tasty when it isn’t.  Sometimes eating something 50 times is fun but the 51st time you are tired of it.  In both cases the answer is to notice that your choice is no longer working for you.  Again it is up to you to realize when a job or a relationship no longer feeds your soul, and be willing to try something new. Nobody is forcing you to stay somewhere where you are not treated well.  Nobody is requiring you to do the same thing day after day.  Take charge of your plate and take charge of your life.

If any of the following makes you anxious:

  1. Saying No.
  2. Asking for what you want.
  3. Knowing when to say when.

Then invest in a three pack of LifeLine sessions so that you you can connect with your essential self.  For the month of October  2011, I am running a special three sessions for the price of two.  That is a $75 savings. Click here to schedule your first session.  Make sure you tell me you want the October Special.


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