The Art of Saying "No."
It is human nature to want to please others. We all have a need deep inside us whether we like to admit it or not, to have acceptance and praise from someone else. And there is nothing wrong with that. Like I said, it's a basic human need. The trouble begins when you are so busy taking care of others needs that you deprive your self of your own. I am extremely guilty of this.
Saying "yes" when someone asks something of you feels good. I love to say "yes". It's such a tiny little word and it makes everyone so happy that I just tend to say it all the time without thinking of the consequences. I guess I am most guilty of not thinking my "yeses" through. They just slip out before I have a chance to realize all that is involved with that tiny little, three-letter word.
We live in a fast-paced world and our need for instant gratification sometimes overrides our thought process. We are never out of reach or contact from the world. We rush from work to after-school activities to events to errand to errand to errand... From the moment we wake up until we fall listlessly into our beds it is a constant go, go, go. It might not feel like it in the moment, but after time it builds up into a lovely ball of stress. Right there... in your gut...
There is hope... for some, lol.
The art of saying "no".
While your knee-jerk emotion to telling someone "no", is selfishness, but more times than not, the opposite is true.
You know you already have existing commitments. If we were honest it could probably fill up our time completely already. It is our duty to fulfill those commitments to the best of our ability. And the more we take on, the less we can give to our already full schedule. Does that make sense?
When we become over-committed, someone, somewhere is going to be disappointed. And let's face it, it usually blasts back on our family, and ourselves. I'm not saying this as a guilt-trip, but hopefully more as an eye-opener. As I mentioned before, I am so very guilty of over filling my plate, too many irons in the fire and my children have had to sometimes put their needs on the back burner.
"Hi, my name is Elizabeth, and I'm a workaholic."
Now that my children are grown, it's my needs that get put on the back burner. I go and go and go until my body literally shuts me down for a bit and then I go again at the same pace.
The art of saying "no" is for our benefit, yes, and for those around us. Because if we can't be at the top of our game, we can't offer our best to others.
Saying "no" gives you back the control over your life and that feels good too.
Need help? Try these tips:
- List all your current commitments from your personal, social and professional life and decide what is important to you and what could go by the wayside. Order these from top priority and down the list.
-Set some soft goals. This will give you a broader view of where your life stands and how you can get the most done. Use short term. mid-length and long term goals to get everything on your calendar.
-Watch out for the sneaky small stuff. What always seems to put me under are the little promises I make to myself and others that will "only take a minute". Those minutes add up! Every time you say "yes" to something, you take away more time. Remember that!
- No time for guilt. Don't feel guilty for saying "no"! You can't be all things to all people! You can't live your life for other people. In the end, it will just be you. (Have you ever had those tasks you said "yes" to and then thought to yourself, Why did I do that? I don't even like her??) Don't let other people guilt you into taking over their tasks. You have enough of your own to contend with!
-Think about the long term. If you are asked to do something, take just a second more and think before you speak. You can say "no" just as quickly as saying "yes" and the impact will vary quite a bit! If saying "yes" is a win-win, then you have my blessing! But if you can foresee more stress in your near future (because you're taking that extra second to think about it) then choose the "no".
-When you do have to say "no", be respectful but firm. I hate having to tell people I can't help them out, or take on that extra shift or assignment. I just hate it. But when I know that I can't possibly take on another task, I am confident in my answer. I don't like to leave room for begging or guilt. My "no" is my final answer. And no, I'm still not good at it, but I'm getting better.
As I have gotten older, my priorities are changing and my body is speaking a bit more loudly than it used to reminding me that I am no longer 20.
Saying "yes" does feel good in the moment, but there are times when it brings more regret than good feelings.
Learn the art of saying "no". Don't be hateful, don't be rude. But decide what you can handle and what is best to take a step back from.
And, I've discovered, the more "no's" you say, the more time you have just for yourself. I've caught a glimpse of it... it's nice. But before I see it again, I have to complete all this work already on my plate!!
Will I ever learn??
Don't be me... go spend your limited time with the people who are important to you and doing the things you love to do. Work, assignments, favors, tasks, errands, commitments... they will always be there and people will always try and unload their list onto you... be choosy. Save some time for you.