I can’t afford it…
These words are quite complex and they’ve been popping up a great deal lately – both for the women I work with and in my own head. I’ve noticed that we are quick to claim “I can’t afford it…” when often, at least it appears to me, we mean something entirely different. And while these words may be quick to our tongue, they fall short of the empowered state in which most of us intend to live. Here are a few of the most common ways I’ve noticed this case of mistaken identity playing out:
1. When “I can’t afford it” really means “I don’t want to.”
This happens all the time and, honestly, who are we protecting by blaming the balance in our checking account for our “inability” to do something we don’t actually want to do? Whether it is a lunch date or a new house or a workshop, if you receive an invitation that you’re not interested in accepting, just say no. All you have to do is say, “No, thank you,” or “That doesn’t feel true for me at this time,” or “I’m looking for a different type of support right now.”
As I learned many years ago from one of my first teachers, “No,” is a complete sentence. Just decline, politely if you wish. You do not have to explain yourself to justify saying no. And if you’d like to explain your decision, do everyone involved in that situation the decency of offering the truth. If they have a problem with you, then they have a problem. You don’t. The truth is enough, just offer it and let it work its magic.
2. When “I can’t afford it” really means “I’m not worth it.”
This is when someone has access to the resources, really wants to invest them in this opportunity, but isn’t sure that it’s okay to give themselves the gift of this opportunity. I’ve seen women do it with everything from education to clothing (especially bathing suits), and health care to vacations. These are the same people who would never let their partner go to work without being perfectly attired, their children go without medical or dental care. They make sure that their co-workers’ shifts are covered so they can take time off. They give and give to make sure that others have their needs met, but they won’t invest in themselves.
This is not a life-affirming way to live. The “I’m not sure I’m worth it” mindset leads to burnout, illness, and perhaps most painfully, an unshakable case of martyrdom.