Excerpt: 'The Art of Extreme Self-Care'

Best-selling author Cheryl Richardson's new book, "The Art of Extreme Self-Care: Transform Your Life One Month at a Time," offers 12 strategies to transform your life one month at a time. She says that altering one negative behavior each month can help you achieve your goals.

Extreme self-care is simply to making taking care of yourself a priority, Richardson says. One way to do that is to be able to say no to people who ask you to do things that you don't have the time or the inclination to do. Read an excerpt from the book about that topic below.

Chapter Three: Let Me Disappoint You

I hate being disappointed. For me, getting my hopes up and then having them dashed is and has always been a very difficult thing to take. That's why when someone asks for a favor, my reflex is often to say yes when I'd really rather say no. Or I spend far too long devising a gracious excuse, only to end up feeling frustrated and resentful for having wasted so much of my time.

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Not long after I started working with Thomas Leonard, he challenged me to do something that sent waves of anxiety coursing through my veins. He knew that I was too concerned with what people thought of me and that I was bending over backward to be liked. So, to help me get over my need to be a good girl, he suggested that I make one person angry every day for an entire month. His intention was to help me become "desensitized" to my fear of conflict and letting people down by confronting their anger, disappointment, or hurt feelings head-on. Just the thought of doing this made me sick to my stomach. And he knew it. But he (and eventually I) also knew that it was important. It helped me start caring less about what others think and more about what I think. My willingness to face this fear paved the way for a more honest and genuine way of life.

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Most of us don't like to hurt or disappoint our fellow men and women. It's an uncomfortable thing to do. Some common reasons for this are:

We don't want to feel guilty.
We don't want to disappoint others because we know how bad it feels.
We don't have the language to let someone down with grace and love.
Our fear of conflict and our desire to keep the peace keep us from telling the truth.
We want people to like us and are uncomfortable when they don't.

One of the harsh realities about practicing Extreme Self-Care is that you must learn to manage the anxiety that arises when other people are disappointed, angry, or hurt. And they will be. When you decide to break your pattern of self-sacrifice and deprivation, you'll need to start saying no, setting limits, and putting boundaries in place to protect your time, energy, and emotional needs. This poses a difficult challenge for any sensitive, caring person. Why? Because you will, for instance, disappoint a friend when you decide not to babysit her kids. Or you'll probably hurt your son's feelings when you tell him that he has to walk to his friend's house instead of always being chauffeured. Or you might anger your partner when you ask him to wash his own clothes. Because you'll be changing the rules of the game, certain individuals won't like it. But remember, if you want to live a meaningful life that also makes a difference in the lives of others, you need to make a difference in your own life first. That way your motivation is pure and without regret.

How to Disappoint the Right Way

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