horses
When Martha Beck and I spent the day together recently, I wound up getting an impromptu coaching session while sitting in the lobby of the hotel after a full day of filming a documentary that features us both. Since I’m the luckiest woman on the planet to benefit from life coaching from Martha, I wanted to share what she taught me because I know it applies to many of you.

How many times per day do you get asked to do something you either don’t want to or don’t have time to do? Personally, a part of me has come to dread my email inbox because it’s so full of sweet, generous invitations from kind people who want something from me.

Speak at this telesummit.  Keynote our conference. Give me advice about my sick child. Write the foreword for my book. Help me with my book launch. Promote my teleclass with me. Give me suggestions for how to get more traffic to my blog.
 
I want to be useful. Many of these people are SO nice. And yet, there’s only so much of me, and if I say yes to everyone, I wind up neglecting the people I love most, my health suffers, and I get so busy that I lose my capacity to find the stillness within me.

What Motivates A Horse?

Martha knows this about me. I’ve been in the ring with Martha and the horses being the blessed recipient of the kind of equine therapy we do with the doctors in the Whole Health Medicine Institute (you can read all about it  here). So I knew exactly what she meant when Martha said, “Lissa, horses don’t do favors.”

Duh. Of course they don’t.

When you enter the ring with a horse, the horse will only “join up” with you if the horse reads the energy you exude and genuinely wants to join up. If the horse doesn’t like what it reads of your energy, the horse will turn away and try to get out of the ring without a lick of concern about hurting your feelings.

Horses are not people pleasers. They’re not horse pleasers either. They aren’t motivated by the desire to be liked or even to be helpful. But they are motivated by clean, positive energy. If they read that in you, they’ll bump their life force up against yours and basically mimic everything you do- happily. 

When To Say Yes, When To Say No

So what should we do when trying to decide whether or not to say yes to someone who wants something from us? Martha says we must be like horses.

What does that mean? When you notice an impulse to say yes, when you’re feeling like you want to help, check in with your motivations. Are you saying yes because the person who is asking has such pure, radiant energy that you want to bump up your life force against theirs (clean energy)? Or are you motivated by wanting to be liked, a desire to please, a sense of obligation, or guilt (dirty energy)?

What if it’s okay to never do favors?

What if we only said yes because we wanted to bump up against clean energy?

What Motivates Visionaries?

When I returned from World Domination Summit and everyone else was posting inspiring blog posts about how they were going to change the world, I felt weighted with what felt like an important question: What motivates visionaries to want to save the world?

Are we motivated by a noble, clean impulse to save the world because we genuinely care? Or are we motivated by dirty energy stemming from an underlying sense of unworthiness that spurs us to make the world a better place?

Either way, the end result can be a good thing, but how we feel about the work we’re doing will feel very different depending on whether we’re motivated by clean versus dirty energy.  If we’re like horses, drawn towards being helpful because it lights up our life force, our work will fill- and fulfill- us. If we’re motivated by a deep seated sense of not being good enough, our visionary work is likely to deplete us.

Putting This Into Practice

After absorbing what Martha was teaching me, I invited myself to put this into practice where I find it hardest- my inbox. The first four requests for my time tempted me to say yes- but only because I wanted to please those asking me for favors. The fifth was a request for support from someone whose life force is so bright and sparkly that, even though he wasn’t asking for it, I offered to spend a whole day bumping my life force up against his, motivated by a pure desire to help him generate even more beautiful clean energy.

Since then, I’ve been ruthless, gently saying “NO” any time I’m noticing my shadowy motivations- the tendency to sell out my own desires in order to please others. (Martha calls it my “skanky ‘ho” tendencies.)

Are You A Skanky ‘Ho?

Do you have these same tendencies? What would happen if you only said yes when you really want to?

Try it…I dare you…

Practicing “no,”

 

PS. Martha and I recently led a super fun free teleclass about Finding Your Calling with our friend Amy Ahlers. You can register here if you’d like to listen in, but be forewarned. Martha is so freakin’ hysterical, you’ll need to empty your bladder first!

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11 Comments

  1. Etienne Portelance

    What about the times when you don’t feel like saying yes, but you end up in a situation you didn’t foresee at all and all of a sudden there is a “moment” when the energy surges out of nowhere, unforeseeable and generous.

    Reply
  2. Jewels

    I had a situation at my last job. everytime I would volunteer to help this one department by the time came to produce they had always put 5 other things for me to do lumped in there too. This when it wasn’t my job to “help” in the first place and it took away from time I needed to do my job. the woman is super nice so I did it a few times before I learned “duh everytime I agree to help I will be doing 5 times what I agreed on to begin with” I learned it is my choice and I need to own that. I love the horse thinking to help me when the next temptation to be a skanky ho comes along!

    Reply
  3. sweta

    You know Lissa, I was wondering this about you., I see how much you do and I wonder how do you not feel depleted? But yesterday I saw your interview with Kate Northrup and I understood a little bit more about your upbringing about giving till you got nor more. To be honest with you when I had the pleasure of meeting you at your book signing, you did seem like you needed more self care. I was especially surprised when I emailed you and got a response within a couple of hours in the midst of a very busy time for you – book launch, PBS, etc. I though maybe I was lucky and as grateful as I am because you tweeted my blog, I also feel for you. I have heard your story so many times and now that you are finally making huge impact, I really hope for you that you allow yourself to really enjoy it. One of my biggest fears about “making my dream come true” is the over giving, not being able to set boundaries etc. As I am on this journey I am constantly reminded that everything , everything is about checking in: from making your bed to accepting a big opportunity. When we are flourishing, it is so easy to feel like we need to say yes to everything because God granted our dream but is your dream really to deplete yourself or is it to have impact with balance? . I struggle with when to be the vessel and when to just be human. It seems common for folks who go down the spiritual path to have superman complex. My intention as I manifest my dream is to be balanced and to be of service to God but not to be GOD and when I get kicked off to get back as quickly as possible 🙂 Thank you as always for being so vulnerable – I truly look at you as a role model!

    Reply
  4. Dr. Sweta - the self expressio

    You know Lissa, I was wondering this about you., I see how much you do and I wonder how do you not feel depleted? But yesterday I saw your interview with Kate Northrup and I understood a little bit more about your upbringing about giving till you got nor more. To be honest with you when I had the pleasure of meeting you at your book signing, you did seem like you needed more self care. I was especially surprised when I emailed you and got a response within a couple of hours in the midst of a very busy time for you – book launch, PBS, etc. I though maybe I was lucky and as grateful as I am because you tweeted my blog, I also feel for you. I have heard your story so many times and now that you are finally making huge impact, I really hope for you that you allow yourself to really enjoy it. One of my biggest fears about “making my dream come true” is the over giving, not being able to set boundaries etc. As I am on this journey I am constantly reminded that everything , everything is about checking in: from making your bed to accepting a big opportunity. When we are flourishing, it is so easy to feel like we need to say yes to everything because God granted our dream but is your dream really to deplete yourself or is it to have impact with balance? . I struggle with when to be the vessel and when to just be human. It seems common for folks who go down the spiritual path to have superman complex. My intention as I manifest my dream is to be balanced and to be of service to God but not to be GOD and when I get kicked off to get back as quickly as possible 🙂 Thank you as always for being so vulnerable – I truly look at you as a role model!

    Reply
  5. Jennifer

    I feel like this with my job… I’m at my job because of a sense of guilt and obligation. It’s a dirty motivation…

    I’d love for my job to genuinely inspire me to be helpful and have that light me up.

    Thanks for the post Lissa!

    Reply
  6. SEWSAVY

    This is the best advice I’ve read anywhere, at anytime so far. It eliminates the guilt and the need to please disease. I like horses and have a tiny bit of experience with them. I can’t thank Martha enough for making this so clear. I have read so many books and this is the best of the best advice.

    Reply
  7. Suzi Banks Baum

    Dear Skanky,

    This rocks me today as I push away so many siren songs that keep me from doing what I really want to be doing. I finally let myself return to the clean energy (I love this description and the horse thing completely) of my original intention from which I got distracted today, and, no surprise, truth rose to the surface, the day is offering me immense beauty and what seemed like problems are turning out to be opportunities.

    I have a sense of clean energy and have spent the last few years practicing my No. As a mother, this can get so messy because when I say no to doing things that could support my kids more, could improve their school life or social life…I get confused. So, when I feel like something is selfish, as I used to call the things that I know now are simply self-care, I know I am on to something.
    Slowly, my skankiness is leading me to clean connections, better communication because I am clearer of intent and a much happier way to make decisions. And my kids are just fine, even if I don’t sell hotdogs at the soccer game.

    No.
    Sometimes if even flows out of my mouth without a lengthy explanation.
    I learned in Al-Anon that No is a complete sentence.
    I love that.
    Yours,
    Ho

    Reply
  8. Ellen M. Gregg

    “I Am She, She Is Me” is the title of the blog post I wrote for this week (not live ’til Thursday), and ever since I wrote it, I am seeing reflections of myself everywhere.

    Hello, there, fellow skanky ‘ho! 😀

    In case you hadn’t guessed, yes, I have these same tendencies. And I know, without a doubt, that my quality of life would be much-improved if I only said yes when I wanted to.

    Now, I’m off to be more like a horse. My sister – sprung from the womb wearing jodhpurs, I swear – is going to be thrilled. 😉

    Reply
  9. kaitlyn

    I am a bit disturbed by the title of this article.. perhaps it was not the best metaphor to use. I’m disappointed in your use of it. :/

    Reply
  10. Dawn E. Slack

    Two things:

    1. Thank you for this post. Relevant and timely for me. I’m going to re-read it now. 🙂 And take notes.
    2. Like Kaitlyn, I’m also a little “meh” on the title/metaphor. I know it is meant to be cheeky and playful….and yet. And yet.

    Reply
  11. Ljiljana Vidovic

    Many people with great energy will never ask a favor….helping someone no matter what their energy is (if they ask) is fine as long as it feels good and does not spoil things for you. May sound selfish either way, but you can not help anyone who makes you feel like you need help afterwards….I hope this makes sense.

    Reply

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