OUTGROWING Co-Dep Niceness (Part 6b)


TO BE or NOT TO BE

willing to forgive myself –
that is the question!

PREVIOUS“: Outgrowing P-P #4a

SITE: 12 Ways to Accept Yourself

 

 

RECOVERY from “Too Nice Syndrome”cont.

Tool 6Healing our CHILDHOOD T.E.A. (cont.)
As we outgrow P-P we can clean out the underlying issue that permeates every part of our life: our Self-Hate, which is blaming ourselves for not getting our needs met. It’s anger/rage at our family turned in on ourselves

Reminder : Healthy, compassionate families, teachers & other leaders guide children with clarity, kindness, patience & humor. They set good examples, teach boundaries & realistic limits, explain the way people & things work, & help each child develop their Natural Self. (Healthy Parenting

That was not our experience. All our childhood emotions, words & actions which were called “too sensitive, disobedient, difficult, selfish, lazy, stupid …..” do not need to be forgiven. Instead, we can look back with sorrow & compassion for what we endured!

SO: Rather than struggling with the idea of having to forgive our youthful acting-out and normal child-reactions, we can benefit the most from Acceptance.  
As we clear out more S-H, we start to outgrow P-P automatically.

+ + Accept reality: We can let go of the – usually unconscious – twisted belief we may still have, that we’re hopelessly bone-deep failures because we originally:
• failed to be the kind of child who was good enough to have elicited love & approval from our parents
• failed to soothe & heal our parents’ many wounds
• failed to stop them from hurting us, each other & our siblings

++ Accept our child’s narcissism as normal, which made us think we had the power to do any of those things. Not! We can understand why we had those misguided ideas, & correct our thinking (the CDs) now, to stop blaming & attacking ourselves for what we believe are inadequacies & deficiencies

++ Accept that the mirroring we got as kids came from cracked mirrors – forcing us to see ourselves thru controlling, cruel, drunk, insensitive, neglectful, raging eyes! What we came to think of as our Self was mainly their sickness projected on to us – which became our Negative Introject. This psychological process – helpful or harmful – happens to every child & is not ‘forgiveness material’.  (Parental Mirroring provides child….)

++. Accept & stop judging ourselves absolutely, totally –  for:
— not being perfect // not knowing everything // making mistakes
— being so scared inside // being controlling // nit-picking
— having depression & the need for medication
— procrastinating or never finishing anything…  basically every opposite of the RIGHTS list

++ Accept that at first we’re going to feel guilt churning in our gut whenever we disobey a Toxic Family Rule, but we will slowly outgrow it.  This is ‘good guilt’ – in the short-term – because it signals doing something healthy for ourselves which goes against all our original crazy training.

The Tibetans have no word for ‘guilty.’ The closest is “Intelligent regret that decides to do things differently.”

++ Accept ourselves as valuable Children of God / HP / the Universe, which helps to stop the cruel inner rant (the WIC or PP) – a choice we can implement every day.
The benefits of self-acceptance are worth the great struggle of having to let go – of releasing the rage at ourselves & our abusers.

The FOUR AGREEMENTS by Miguel Ruiz
1.
Be impeccable with your word
Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

2. Don’t take anything personally
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say & do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions & actions of others you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.

3. Don’t make assumptions
Find the courage to ask questions & express what you really want. Be as clear as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness & drama.

4. Always do your best
This will change from moment to moment, based on being healthy or sick, young or old, rested or tired…. Under any circumstance, simply do your best & you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.

The ability to practice these principles (in all our affairs 🙂) comes from the Healthy Adult. They are never meant to be done perfectly – since that’s not possible. But the more we can incorporate them, the more Co-dependence will fall away.

NEXT: Self-forgiveness as ADULTS

OUTGROWING Co-Dep Niceness (Part 6a)

THIS PART IS
the hardest of all

PREVIOUS“: Outgrowing P-P , #4a

SITE: I Forgive Myself for…… from ‘Journey of Be’, scroll to 9/2015

QUOTE: “You’re the Average of the 5 people You spend the Most Time with”
Jim Rohn “The Art of Exceptional Living”

<—— ARTWORK from Tiny Buddha

 

RECOVERY from “Too Nice Syndrome”cont.

‘FORGIVING’ OURSELVES only applies to us as adults (next 2 posts), when the brain is capable of self-direction – understanding that the ‘character defects’ of the False Self were developed in childhood, which we had no control over.

Tool 6. Healing our CHILDHOOD T.E.A.s is to:
1. LET GO of our Self-hate (E) & endless recriminations (Ts) re. the past
————- See “Letting go means….“, and to:
2. GIVE UP the compulsion to keep punishing ourselves & stay miserable (Es)

Review: As earlier posts have indicated, the underpinnings to co-dep / P-P ‘niceness’ is unexpressed anger / rage. And under that is a vast sewer of stuffed emotions, the majority being fear/terror, but also disappointment, loneliness, longing, sadness, despair….. Cleaning out our damage includes facing & dealing with our anger at our family as well as all our other T.E.As.
It means having compassion for ourselves & being in the present.

Judgements: Along with forgiving others who have wronged us, we are told to ‘Forgive yourself’– but it’s not always clear which part of our life that refers to. Presumably it’s for all our ‘bad’ behavior, at any age.
This is tricky, because ACoA co-deps can take this to mean that our self-defeating patterns prove what our family said all along – that our very essence is bad/evil, which is why we’re supposed to need absolution.
Those unloving messages get added to children’s minds who combine Being & Doing into one thing.  So, still run by our WIC, ACoAs are plagued by the toxic rule: “I act bad because I am bad”, which we frantically try to hide with perfectionism& P-P.

REALITY:
If this were true then there could be no Recovery, no second chances, no spiritual healing & growth!
We need to “come to believe” that we are not bad & therefore unlovable, but rather severely wounded, as well as perfectly imperfect!

The starting point for all recovery is working to eliminate as much S-H as possible. See: Self-Hate & ACoAs, & counter it with ‘Emotional Needs & Resources, as well as ‘Emotional Maturity’ andACoAs & Self-esteem‘.

CHILDHOOD
(As)
ACTIONS: When being encouraged to see that S-H is a destructive lie, many ACoAs will counter by pointing out how difficult or bratty they were as teens, or even younger – as proof of their inherent ‘badness’.
Yes, some kids are quieter & some more rambunctious. But much of what our parents considered ‘misbehaving’ was a combination of:
a. our copy of & direct reactions to all the craziness we were stuck in
b. many perfectly normal kid ways – but mislabeled by unhealthy parents
(“10 Ways Kids Appear to Be Bad but Aren’t“)

(Ts) THINKING: The 2 categories of actions were based on:
a. the unique magical thinking of all children, who have a self-centered focus & a limited knowledge about how the world works
b. the many distortions & omissions fed to our growing brains by abusive parents, school, religion, our neighborhood & culture…..

(Es) EMOTIONS: (see list above) ACoAs often say they “feel crazy”- which is actually a cognitive issue, not emotional – because, growing up, most things truly didn’t make sense. It made our world chaotic & unpredictable, which is very scary to any child, who needs to feel safe as much as to feel loved.

THIS leads us back to self-forgiveness.
Forgiveness is always used in relation to having done something wrong. But as children much of what was labeled wrong about us was not! It doesn’t mean we were angels – far from it.  But every day we had to cope with extremely painful & frightening events. So it’s not appropriate or relevant to use the concept of forgiveness toward ourselves as children – for the survival strategies we developed in dire circumstances. There is nothing to forgive.

NEXT: Self-Forgiveness – in childhood (#4b-2)

OUTGROWING Co-Dep Niceness (Part 5b)


IT’S NOT EASY
to heal old wounds

PREVIOUS: Forgiving others #—

SITE: 15 things Forgiveness DOESN’T mean….

 

RECOVERY from “Too Nice Syndrome” (TSN) cont.

Tool 5a.
FORGIVING
OTHERS
(
DEF. in Part 4a)

Forgiving others is either:
1. about repairing relationships, to re-instate broken or lost trust, OR

2. letting go of the relationships because it cannot be repaired

NOTE: Forgiving in no way implies trusting the other person, nor does it guarantee the continuation of the relationship.

To repair a broken connection, both parties must be willing to participate.
• In some cases only one person has caused the problem – which they must own up to, & the aggrieved person will have to be willing to forgive. But forgiving a wound (letting of anger & resentment) does not guarantee a reinstatement of trust. That has to be earned by the wounder, & that takes time.

Some relationships CAN NOT be fixed & some shouldn’t be. This is especially true when someone has persistently acted badly. Do not ignore this!
There are situations where it’s not worth the effort to repair a relationship. No matter how hard we try, it’s not going to work, because the other person is won’t to meet us half way, unwilling to consider what motivates their disruptive behavior. Without that willingness, they will not change.

TOXIC people must be avoided whenever possible. If we were exposed to one or more for any length of time, we need to get away from them as soon as possible, & then heal the aftereffects – on our own, using all our tools – so they don’t keep hurting us (inside) even once they’re gone.

• In other cases two people have butted heads, each hurting the other – reacting from unhealed damage. If the relationship is worth salvaging – to both – then each will need to go to their separate corners to figure out what in their own background set them off. Then eventually come together to share their awarenesses, using only ‘-I-‘ statements.

This too is usually a slow process. Sometimes it will allow the relationship to continue – maybe stronger, maybe not.
OR – it will serve the purpose of each one knowing their side of the street is clean, but may force them to see they’re really not compatible going forward. Then the parting can be sad, but it eliminates residual guilt & regret.

GROWTH
Letting go of anger (Es) & resentments (Ts) is internal, which must then be expressed externally by changing old patterns into healthy ACTIONS (As).

++ CHOICES – We’re responsible now for choosing to surround ourselves with people who are self-caring, positive & kind. Then there would be a lot less to forgive!  Recovery means being much more discerning about who we trust. Since people tell us about themselves all the time – believe them! So it’s not actually them we should trust, but ourselves. We can work our way out of denial by carefully listening to & observing what others put out & then admit what we see & hear – especially when there is a persistent pattern to someone’s erratic /cruel /narcissistic / unavailable behavior

++ SPEAKING UP – As we outgrow P-P we can be much less ready to automatically forgive & forget’ indiscriminately. It’s not in anyone’s best interest. Repeatedly overlooking bad behavior in others not only harms us, but can also seriously effect our loved ones, friends & co-workers who are around the acting out, to everyone’s detriment. Being emotionally mature includes holding people accountable for their inconsistencies & incompetence, for not keeping their agreements, for damage they create, for abusive or disrespectful things they say…..

++ SELF-PROTECTION – At the same time we can avoid blaming others. In the present, if someone hurts our feelings or injures us in some other way, we must ask them to stop. We are not responsible for their reactions to that.  If they won’t stop, we can remove ourselves or at least keep our distance. We are not responsible for what the other person did or did not do – only for our Es & the way we handle it (As).
EXP: If someone steps on your toes, that’s on them. Definitely say OUCH! & move your foot.  If they keep stepping on it, that’s on you, for staying close enough for them to do it again & again.

NEXT: Accepting ourselves – in Childhood

OUTGROWING Co-Dep Niceness (Part 5a)

I DON’T KNOW
if I’ll ever be able to

PREVIOUS: Outgrowing P-P #3

SITEs: PMES forms of Self-Care 
• 30 day challenge, to make changes

RECOVERY from “Too Nice Syndrome” (TSN) cont.

Tool 5a. FORGIVING OTHERS
DEF:
a. To LET GO of our anger  (Es= the emotion), and our resentments (Ts= the angry thoughts /obsessions) toward anyone whose offenses, flaws or mistakes have seriously injured us   (See “Letting go means….“), and
b.  To GIVE UP the desire to punish, seek revenge or exact payment

ACoAs
The mental health, Recovery & religious communities keep telling us we must forgive others in order to move on, insisting it must happen before healing can occur. This may be true for some people, but doesn’t really work for most ACoAs.
Forgiveness is important, but it’s not that easy to extend it to all the damaging & crazy mates, friends, bosses…. we’ve collected along the way, & especially not toward the adults who tortured & neglected us as kids.
There are things done to us that are – or seem to be – unforgivable.

▶︎ For ACoA angry-nice people forgiveness IS about ‘letting go’ – but not first. Instead, it is the outcome of the process of gradually releasing layers of old pain, combined with developing the UNIT, so that we don’t need all those ‘unavailables’ anymore.

This takes a lot of time & effort, & maybe forgiving our abusers will never be complete because of the amount & intensity of trauma we suffered, but we are worth the effort to try, & that effort ends up benefiting every part of our life.

Not getting our rage out (& the tears underneath) is what keeps us stuck in obsession, which we’ve covered over with denial & then express as P-P angry-niceness. It will continue to plague us as long as we’re still desperate for their (unavailable) love & acceptance. Our WIC wants the Perpetrators to admit what they did, to genuinely feel sorry & to apologize. This rarely happens, so don’t hold your breath! Our anger is appropriate, but it must finally be vented safely so we don’t have to keep carrying its corrosive effect. (“How to forgive” – even if they never apologize!)

ACoAs live in one extreme or the other about almost everything.
As adult we are responsible for our Ts, Es & As, but as angry ‘nice people’ (P-P) we are afraid to admit our emotions & opinions, instead taking on the burden of other people’s feelings, especially if we love or need them, & especially if they’re acting needy or aloof. This comes from a set of opposites, a double message that becomes our bind :
— the WIC’s narcissistic desire to symbiose (be the same as me), AND
— the compulsion to escape from being ourselves (from S-H)

So, as long as we’re being run by the wounded child,
— we either refuse to even consider letting go (forgiving), or
— we’re too easy on everyone who hurt us.
Taking the High Road is more likely a way of staying in denial than it is of being emotionally free.

► Forgiving requires some mental & emotional distance from our wounds, by:
— having done enough venting of our old pain in safe ways
— having had our childhood experiences validated by people who understand
— having gotten enough correct info so our thinking is clearer
— having good enough boundaries so we can take care of ourselves
— having developed a healthy Adult to be more in charge of our choices

A VISUAL : We can think of our many painful memories as a series of pictures in a large gallery in our head – each one with an art lamp over it, the cord plugged into the wall at the baseboard. For us – the light is all the emotions attached to each memory, plugged into our nervous system.
A little at a time, by crying, raging, talking them thru & being validated –  in safe places – the plug can get pulled out of the wall. We’ll still be able to see the images, but they will be in shadow because much of the pain will be gone. THAT is letting go. That is the forgiveness that benefits us.

NEXT: Recovery – Forgiving ourselves (#5b)

OUTGROWING Co-Dep Niceness (Part 4)

I WANT TO BE ABLE
to enjoy all my rights

PREVIOUS: Outgrowing Angry-Niceness #3

MEN: Break “Nice Guy” Stereotype
WOMEN:  What “She’s too nice” means

RECOVERY from “Too Nice Syndrome” (TNS) cont.

Tool 4. RIGHTS (cont.)

REVIEW the problem with the phrase “I deserve…..”, in Part 3

Instead of having to ‘sing for our supper’, we want to acknowledge & act on RIGHTS which are everyone’s birthright. They are strictly for our benefit, not in order to be ‘good’ or to take care of others.  As we start living by them, eventually they can become automatic!

YOU have a RIGHT 
❤︎ to Think, Feel, Speak & Act according to your True Self
❤︎ to be treated respectfully, no matted the circumstance
❤︎ to never say “I’m sorry” for being yourself, or just for being here & taking up space 😎
❤︎ to discover your passions & pursue them without interference
❤︎ to appreciate yourself whenever you stand your ground
❤︎ to not feel guilty for taking care of yourself or saying ‘no’
❤︎ to take time out to answer a Q or request (“I’ll let you know”)

❤︎ to not care – so much!  You can’t carry the burden of all the world’s problems – there are too many, just as the whole world can not care about yours. And since none of us has the power to fix another person, you can stick to handling the things that matter the most to you, to get the most out of your efforts

❤︎ to offer no justification!  Don’t lie, but don’t explain. Trying to prove your point – to unreceptive ears – can easily become self-humiliating. When an explanation is required, keep your answers clear & short

YOU have a RIGHT 
❤︎ to make mistakes // to not know // to be incompetent (every so often)
❤︎ to ask for help  // to change your mind // to ask Qs
❤︎ to not be responsible for other people’s needs, actions or problems
❤︎ to disagree with others & express your opinion // to not respond to ‘stupidity’

❤︎ to stop victimizing yourself
• Never chase perfection – there’s no such possibility for human beings. Only God is perfect. Focus on your actual qualities, natural talents & accomplishments
• Know when your kindness is being taken advantage of, speak up about it & pull back some
• Don’t compare yourself with others. Since each of us has a separate body & separate personality, we also each have our own life path. Live yours!

• Always be kind to yourself. Stop self-hating thoughts as soon as there pop up, checking to see what abandonment trigger set it off (BOOK: “Compassion & Self-Hate – An alternative to Despair“- T. Rubin)

❤︎ to be helpful & generous to others — IF you have enough PMES supplies of your own to share.  Only do what you are legitimately capable of, what fits with your own self-care needs & when you have the time (unless there’s an emergency that only you can deal with – which is rare)

❤︎ to take time out for yourself, even a little every day – to dream, to imagine a new possibility or something creative, to process the day’s experiences, to revel in an accomplishment, compliment or triumph

❤︎ to find & maintain contact with support systems in various parts of your life, the kinds that fit your personal tastes, your work concerns, family needs & social interests. Let others give you whatever help & encouragement they have to offer – if it’s what you need!  As the Al-anon Closing says ” ……We aren’t perfect. The welcome we give you may not show the warmth we have in our hearts for you. After a while, you’ll discover that ‘though you may not like all of us, you’ll love us in a very special way – the same way we already love you.”

❤︎ YOU HAVE a RIGHT to assert all these rights! (‘My Rights – Qs’)

NEXT: Outgrowing co-dep #5a

OUTGROWING Co-Dep Niceness (Part 3)

  

IT’S A BALANCING ACT
but it’s worth it to me

PREVIOUS: Outgrowing Co-dep, #2

MEN:  Stop Being a “Nice” Guy

WOMEN – Don’t be so nice

 

RECOVERY from “Too Nice Syndrome” (TNS) cont.

Tool #3  ASSERTIVENESS (cont.)
As we practice self-care & accept things the way they really are, rather than how we would like them, we can be more direct in protecting ourselves. This makes P-P less & less necessary.

++ Don’t excuse your opinions (T), they are a part of you, even if only for the moment. However, to be sure of what we think & feel, we must first identify all those long-held ideas we had to swallow whole from our family, & separate them out from what we truly believe for ourselves. There are some things we can be sure of, unequivocally: “I know what I know”. But we can’t know everything – certainly not what others are thinking or feeling, unless they say – & we don’t have to know everything. If you believe in yourself, you’ll always want to keep learning AND won’t be ashamed to correct any ignorance or misconceptions

++ Identify your boundaries. We all have the need for personal space, a greater amount for some than for others. P-P generally deny this need, believing that not setting limit is the only way to keep people attached to us, (symbiosis). Trying to meld with each person we interact with means constantly taking on a new fake persona. At least when actors do that they get paid! And trying to be what others want or copying them – never gets us the pay-off we’re hungry for. Keeping this up year after year takes a lot of energy & creativity, but is ultimately exhausting AND ineffective! Remember “Zelig”?

++ Don’t shy away from conflict or confrontations. A basic philosophical tenet of martial art is to a) know how to defend yourself, if attacked, but b) never start the fight if you can avoid it. Following this 2-part principle psychologically is crucial to having a safer life. Books like “The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-defense” by S.H. Elgin, give us several excellent ‘weapons’.

When we start setting boundaries, some people will be confused & others will be angry – who may give you a hard time – since they’re used to you automatically giving in to whatever they want from you.

No matter how scary it is at first to deal with push-back, if you’re sure of your beliefs or needs, stick to your guns. Some of those reactors might even apologize later.
Eventually the right people will get used to the new you, even admire & respect the changes. The ones who can’t get with the new program will fall away. “Man’s rejection is God’s protection.”

Tool 4. RIGHTS
++
To outgrow P-P we need a replacement for the Toxic Rules that drive our co-dependence. We need to know our RIGHTS.

☁︎ BTW – How we use Language is as important in the quest for ‘sanity’ as other factors. The words & phrases we choose either help or hinder our progress.  A questionable statement we hear often is:“You deserve it” / or / “I deserve to…..”
The problem is the word ‘deserve’. Sounds OK? Well, in terms of actual meaning, ‘deserve’ refers to whatever is given as a reward for acceptable, special or difficult behavior (as in: “Here is your A+ / medal / Oscar / gold watch…..you deserve it”). It is something you earned, which is OK, since it’s good to be recognized & honored for accomplishments.

BUT, using ‘deserve’ in the context of personal growth is misguided, because it implies that our worth is based on how much & how well we DO thingsThis reinforces our difficult childhood, when we were only acceptable (if at all) on condition of how well we conformed to dysfunctional rules, instead of being loved unconditionally for just being here.

So, connecting “I deserve …..” with self-worth is a subtle distortion, disguised as Recovery, which ignores our BE-ing. The implied message is: “Produce or lose!” It sneakily tells us that we have to keep on earning validation for things which in fact are universal Human needs (love, freedom, respect, identity, guidance, dependability….), & therefore should not have to be struggled for. This deep-rooted negative assumption is why we keep trying to be perfect & please everyone.

NEXT: Outgrowing P-P #4

OUTGROWING Co-Dep Niceness (Part 2)


THERE ARE MANY WAYS

to help myself ‘let go’

PREVIOUS: Outgrowing P-P #1

<—- IMAGE from : “16 Acts of Self-Care to Get You Thru 2017


See ACRONYM page for abbrev.


RECOVERY from “Too Nice Syndrome” (TNS) cont.
To outgrow People-Pleasing (P-P) we need to stand up for ourselves in T.E.A. For that to be effective it has to come from our Adult Ego State& not as a knee-jerk reaction from the WIC. This includes knowing when to be silent or walk away, which will depend on recognizing whether a situation is hopeless or not, especially when dealing with Personality Disordered people.

Tool 2. SELF-WORTH
++ Self-esteem is fundamentally the result of unconditional love! To outgrow the need to P-P we can work at providing that for ourselves now, even tho we didn’t get is as kids. Our attention has to be internal – on who we are, what we need, what our rights are & how well we take care of ourselves

☁︎ Co-deps base a lot of their ‘value’ on how much they do for others. This is self-defeating, guaranteeing ‘failure’, because —
— it’s only about action rather than personal identity: external vs internal
— we’re selfishly using others as a prop for our WIC’s distorted self-image
— we’re dependent on the unpredictability of how others respond to us
— we can never do enough for some people, so we’ll always come up short
— we can never fix anyone else’s pain, & even if it were possible, the people we most want to ‘save’ (rescuing=false helping) are usually the most recalcitrant (absolutely UNwilling to work on themselves!)
— some people will never give us any appreciation or validation. Sadly those are the ones we chase the hardest & longest!

Self-esteem allows for INTIMACY. To be capable of intimacy we need to overcome a large chunk of our self-hate – by developing at least a working knowledge of our Rights, using good Boundaries, having a range of Emotions & a nodding acquaintance with our Inner Child, the UNIT & our True Self.

Tool 3. ASSERTIVENESS
++ Practice saying YES to the things you do want
• SUCH AS things you’ve had an interest in or passionate about since childhood, even if you never got to pursue them. Now you can pick them up, just for pleasure, or maybe to start a whole new career:
— Say yes to learning new skills that will improve your income
— Say yes to healthier friends & lovers, jobs, living space….
— Say yes to a new couch, better clothes, flowers….(when you can)
— Say yes to filling some of your down-time with ‘good, clean fun’
— Say yes to taking time out just for yourself, to recharge
➤ Say YES to one thing you’ve been wanting to do (a small tattoo, a dance class, a Spiritual retreat…..), but are afraid others won’t like it or will make fun of it. Too bad. Do it anyway!

• There are other things you can be enthused about as short-term enjoyment, something or someone you’re only into for a while (maybe even a few years) and then: You got what you wanted from the experience // or you did as much with it as you could // or you’ve gradually become disappointed in it // or you, they or it has changed, & now it doesn’t suit you anymore….  You’re done, so move on & choose new PPT
AND
++ Practice saying NO to things you don’t want
Don’t automatically say yes to everything others ask for. If something is really not okay with you, say NO. Or let people know it’s something you’re going to have to think about & then get back to them.

You don’t have to give any reason for not liking something, even if it’s temporary – and it’s OK to change your mind. Remember that “NO.” is a complete sentence.

Some people will accept your new-found voice without a fuss, but others will not. If asked “WHY don’t you want to, why can’t you, why aren’t you…..” – know your reason & state it briefly in a declarative sentence. Never start with “I feel that….., I guess……, Well, …… Sorry…..”.
You can say: “Thanks, but I’m not available, That’s not for me, Not today, I have too much on my plate, That’s not my taste, Thanks for the offer – but I like it where I am, I’m finished with that………”
(MORE ways to say NO nicely – on Pinterest)

NEXT: Outgrowing P-P #3