Someone reached out to me via email recently… she wanted me to give her website, branding & design services for free (and included a long troubled story telling me why).
This is not new to me, I get that from time to time. I wrote her back a long email saying that while I do not give my time and services away for free, that I have created MANY free things that could be of help to her in the meantime. I included my best advice, cheered her on, and also included a TON of free and cheap links to resources of my own stuff, and other peoples stuff, that might help her. I thanked her for her interest and wished her all the very best.
She wrote me back.
She asked for free help again. She did not say thank you for the resources, she just proceeded to tell me her story of why she can’t afford help, and asked me if I would do free in person 1-1 mentorship/coaching/consulting for her then. Then she laid on the guilt and justifications for this, thick.
I am not new to that either.
I once had a woman attempt to shame me after asking for a quote by telling me she worked with kids who have cancer and she cares more about people than money (to imply that I didn’t). She said that to inflict pain on me, and to shame me and make me feel unimportant. Because her inability to afford my rates at that time probably made her feel shamed and unimportant, so she lashed out from that place of pain. And I get it.
She said it to say, without really saying, “how DARE you care about yourself and your needs above others — who. do. you. think. you. are??” And again, I get it. What I know now, is that that was about her own pain over her belief that she can’t have what she needs to thrive *AND* take care of kids with cancer too. And that there could be ways where everyone gets what they need.
It is right about now that I would launch into a diatribe about all of the things I have done and given to help others in leu of giving my work and time away for free and BECAUSE of not giving my work and time away for free (because that’s how I was able to even create all those free resources).
And the funny thing is there actually IS a literal TON of my work currently available for free. Free weekly blog posts, free weekly mindset videos, free guidebooks, free workshops (3 of them), free how-to’s, free brand discovery questionnaires… but all of that would be just my attempt to try to convince you I’m not selfish. That I’m not a greedy horrible bitch for honoring and caring for myself and my own bottom line. )
And the even funnier thing is, it is not you I am trying to convince of that, it’s ME. (because did you notice I still launched into the diatribe? 🙄 yes. clearly, I’m not totally over this. 🤷🏻♀️)
I am here with myself in situations like this, up against an absolute WALL of ingrained messages about what women are supposed to do and be and how my honoring-of and not betraying myself will honestly get me HURT. Because women have been killed, and are STILL being killed, for no less. And that’s a fact.
So a simple innocent-seeming little email like the free work email, carries the weight of centuries within it.
If you’re in business, you may sometimes get these too, and this is the fight you’re up against with every one of them. And if you are like me, you may have gotten over this and are not so triggered by them anymore, BUT when you reach into a new level of caring for yourself, raise your rates, or make changes in your business, it will probably come up again.
So I took a deep breath, and replied to the free-work-asker: No.
I was kind, but I was not apologetic. I was not trying to justify myself or win her validation or approval. She does not have to respect, honor, or value my time. She does not have to understand or see what I give…
But I DO.
I DO… or no one will.
We tend to think that one day someone will swoop in and totally validate us. That someone or someTHING will tell us we’re enough. And they will, but it will never BE enough until you truly know and honor that inside of YOU.
I don’t blame her. I know exactly where she’s coming from. I was there too. Believing I was powerless. Believing I needed to be saved. Nothing I could give would help that. And nothing anyone else gave was ever enough. It’s an inside job, and a choice.
And so I honor us both with my no.
There ARE free and cheap resources available, there IS free help available, and the more we honor and respect each others time and need to care for our own small businesses and financial health, the MORE free and cheap resources there’s going to be for those who are just getting started on their journey (because we will be freed up out of constant struggle to survive and stress so that we can create and share those resources), and the more others will have permission to step into honoring their own time the same way, when they’re ready.
Truly helping and honoring others HAS to include YOU. Otherwise, you’re either operating under a savior complex (which is disempowering to everyone) OR under a Martyr complex, which is also disempowering to everyone, and mostly to you. In either case you are waiting to be made good enough by your giving. Both of these complexes are just a product of this ancient story we carry that women are holy/good when they are self-sacrificing, and evil/bad when they are not.
And THAT story, has GOT to go.
I want to ask you something now, and instead of popping off with a top of mind answer, I want you to reach deeper and TRULY ask yourself: do you, or would you ask men for free time and services like you would ask a woman for the same thing? If the answer is no, why do you think that is??
It is because you don’t expect that of them. It is because you were taught not to disrespect or question their worth. Then why are you so quick to disrespect yours? And why are you so quick to question YOUR worth? And if you’re honest, the worth of other women?
Because this story is running underneath, that’s why.
Deep deep down, you are programmed to believe that you’re worth less, and that your wants and needs don’t matter, or aren’t as important. You believe your self-sacrificing makes you good, EVEN when you think you know better.
It will NOT feel safe for you to do this at first. You will fear hate, punishment and retribution. That is not coming from nowhere. It’s real, it happened, and your biology and evolution remembers.
Surround yourself with others who respect and see your worth, and will calm this fear as you try to work on cultivating that worth inside yourself.
Money is freedom, and there is a part of you that has been trained to look away from that freedom. You have been trained that if you just work hard enough, and sacrifice enough, that freedom will be given.
It will not.
It is time for you to give it to yourself. ❤️