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Doctor Neha: Hi, everybody and welcome. This is my third annual trip to Bali, and I made another wonderful friend. Hi, Courtney. We met at lunch today, and Courtney started discussing some thoughts and questions she had when she found out I was a doctor. So tell them what you started asking me at lunch.

Courtney: I can’t poop.

Doctor Neha: I think is so funny that when you meet someone who’s a doctor, there’s this instant trust or openness. You said to me, “I know you’re eating…”

Courtney: And I just tell you I have this problem.

Doctor Neha: So I told her, “Why don’t we make this a video blog? Because I’m pretty sure other people are struggling with this as well. If you’re willing to ask a stranger about this, would you be willing to do a video blog for other people to learn too?” And she was game.

So tell them what you had asked me.

Courtney: I’ve been having digestive problems for a while, but thought I had taken care of it. It’s coming back again. Since I eat healthy, why? And living in a place that is so spiritually beautiful and warm, which aligns with me—why can I not release?

Doctor Neha: So the idea that I thought was beautiful is that you are basically living your dream job. You’re a fitness trainer, you’re a coach, and you’re out here now living the Bali dream.

Courtney: Yes.

Doctor Neha: So how could it be that this part of you feels more shut down? What is the job that you’re doing out here?

Courtney: I live and work with a nice family, half Balinese and half American. I’m doing private tutoring for the girl. She’s 13 and I work with her Monday through Friday. I live with the family 24/7.

Doctor Neha: How well did you know the family before you got here?

Courtney: I did not know the family at all.

Doctor Neha: Well, good for you. You took this huge leap and went into this unknown situation. Now you’re noticing that your body is given you some messages and some digestive issues, right?

Courtney: Yes.

Doctor Neha: Digestive issues, specifically constipation or not being able to poop is often correlated with not letting go, not being willing to release. So where do you see that going on? Or is there any place you see that going on?

Courtney: Yes, specifically I think of their dinnertime. Every night they make a beautiful dinner and invite me to eat with them. I think that’s so lovely; I want to be part of that. The problem is they eat at 8:00 or 8:30 at night. My body is used to eating—and I enjoy eating—around 5:00 or 6:00 because I like to be asleep by 9:00.

Doctor Neha: So you don’t want to have a full belly and have just eaten. Okay. So this might be cultural; it might be social. It’s also tied to your job.

Courtney: Right.

Doctor Neha: You’re in this new culture…

Courtney: And it feels like pressure to eat dinner with them. I’m so grateful that they’ve invited me into their home and given me a way to live a lifestyle I’ve dreamed of.

Doctor Neha: Have you been eating at 8:30 every night?

Courtney: Yes.

Doctor Neha: Okay. And you haven’t said anything?

Courtney: No.

Doctor Neha: Okay. So when you are in a relationship of any kind and there’s something you know about your relationship that the other person doesn’t know about, that’s called a “withhold.” And each time you’re with that person, it will kind of stir you up a little bit, but the other person has no awareness of it. Now, this family asked you, invited you to dinner, and you said yes. So their job is to believe you. Their job is to believe that this invitation is okay with you. Right?

Courtney: That makes sense.

Doctor Neha: So what are you afraid of? In something as simple as having this conversation to let them know, what would be the scary part of that?

Courtney: That I’ve offended them.

Doctor Neha: That you might offend them in how you say it or what you say?

Courtney: Yeah. And they’re very open and beautiful kind humans. But I still have this intimidation.

Doctor Neha: You tell me, but I’m getting this feeling that maybe you want them to feel that you appreciate them for giving you this opportunity.

Courtney: Absolutely. And what a beautiful time, having supper with them. Being with them and talking about our day or enjoying delicious Balinese food is awesome.

Doctor Neha: It’s a sacred time.

Courtney: Yeah.

Doctor Neha: All right. Would you be interested in doing a little role-playing of one way you might be able to have this conversation? Then after we’re done, take the parts that resonate with you and make it your own.

Courtney: Okay.

Doctor Neha: So I’ll be you. Here’s what I might say to start the conversation: “Hey, you know how I went on my vacation? It was really great, and while I was there I did a little bit of reflection. I figured out some ways that I think we’re going to be able to work and live even better together. And I wanted to share them with you. When do you have 15 or 20 minutes, when it will be a good time for you to talk?”

Courtney: I think right now’s a good time.

Doctor Neha: All right. So she sounds open and communicative. That’s good. You picked a good family. So now let’s pretend it’s time to talk. Now you’re going to say is something along the lines of “When I was on vacation, I sat down and had lunch with a doctor. I was telling her that I was struggling a little bit with feeling cramped up and not as connected as I normally am.”

I don’t know that you need to go into all the details.

“And what I realized is that sometimes I hold back. I want to make sure you know how grateful I am to have this opportunity to work with your daughter and to be with all of you. I want you to know how grateful and gracious you’ve been in hosting me and making sure that I’m comfortable, including me every night at dinner. What I do want to practice is changing that sometimes I say yes so that I don’t upset our relationship or create any waves. I want everything to go smoothly, even if it’s going against my own biological rhythms. Let me explain what I mean by that. I’m used to eating around 6:00 so I can sleep around 9:00 at night, except I don’t want to miss the amazing connection at the dinner table, the beautiful food that you serve. So each night when you’ve so kindly invited me to dinner, I say yes, but when I go to bed I feel heavy and I don’t sleep as well. I think it’s impacting my digestive system. I noticed that when I was on vacation on a more regular schedule and more aligned with what I’m used to, everything became easier. What I realized was that my fear is that you might not be okay with me sharing this. So I was a little worried. What I want you to know is that I’m not saying I’m going anywhere. This is really about trying to make our relationship stronger. And I’m wondering if you have any ideas about how we might be able to keep that sacred, beautiful dinner connection and I might be able to eat a few hours earlier so that my body feels good at bedtime.”

Courtney: Bless your heart. That opens the door for her to know exactly where I’m at and that I’m grateful. And it gives a creative opportunity to figure out how do we work with what I’m dealing with—which is I want to eat earlier, but I want to be with them.

Doctor Neha: You want to feel good so that you can do a good job.

Courtney: That’s really it.

Doctor Neha: That’s one thing you should say: “I think there are ways that I could communicate more clearly than I have been in order to improve how I feel and to allow me to do an even better job for you.”

Courtney: Beautiful. Okay.

Doctor Neha: You’ve got to kind of go through this just to be able to say it out loud so you can get really clear.

So for all of you out there, pay attention and notice when there are times that you’re more concerned about not offending somebody else that you end up making yourself uncomfortable. That ends up creating a distance in the relationship in another way.

The one thing I want to make sure is if you and I have some sort of disagreement or conflict, if I don’t share it with you, I don’t actually avoid this conflict. What I do is I swallow it, so I take the conflict from being between us and I put it inside me. And if I swallow the conflict, now I’m not comfortable and I start moving away from you. So the conflict is going to happen in one way or another. Now I’m really uncomfortable or out of rhythm with my own body.

For all of you out there, pay attention! Is there anything you are holding back from someone else because you don’t know how to say it or you don’t know what to say? You think it’ll take too long or you think they might get mad at you. What is it that you need to align better with so you can get rid of those “withholds” and have clearer, cleaner relationships with the people you care about?

What were your takeaways?

Courtney: I feel good about having a conversation now. I have clear talking points that I’m going to practice.

Doctor Neha: It doesn’t take a long time.

Courtney: No, it doesn’t take 10 minutes and my digestive system is going to be better. It’s going to love you.

Doctor Neha: Thank you, Courtney.

Courtney: Thank you, Doctor Neha. You are so welcome.

Awareness Prescription
How to Get Unstuck—When You’ve Said Yes Instead of No

  1. Set your conversation up for success by framing your request with these details:

    1. Topic

    2. Approximate amount of time

    3. When it’s convenient for the other person?

  2. State what you appreciate about your situation or relationship with the other person.

  3. Address why you said yes in the first place (for the sake of relationship, to spend time together, to eat dinner together, etc.).

  4. Mention the physical impact you’re experiencing as a result.

  5. Offer a solution, or ask them to problem solve with you.

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