My husband has taught me that it is ok to say no.
Don’t just say yes for the sake of it.
If someone likes that version of you; just for saying yes, when your whole body is screaming no, that version of you that is false and holds back, then they actually just like what you can do for them, and not you!
And if there is one thing you are going to take away from this post, let it be that.
I am talking to myself here as well – both present and future Linda.
It can be so frustrating sometimes when you hear the same complaints from people about not having the time, energy or ability to do something positive for themselves because of their commitment to other people. Jobs, kids, spouses, church groups, social plans, you name it, they all require time, effort and energy.
And I am not saying that these commitments are not all necessary and in some cases fulfilling. Sure they are.
The point I am trying to make is that when you say “yes” to everything, you’re not making any judgement calls or assessing the value of things. You’re just taking things on because they’re there, or because you don’t want to disappoint someone.
In some cases, dare I say it, we take things on because it is just easier to blame someone or something other than ourselves when we don’t achieve what we want out of life.
But this is madness. It’s like deciding you’ll date anyone who is interested in you rather than looking for someone you like, respect and trust and so forth.
And honestly, the only way we can get around this is by saying NO!
When you decide your default answer is going to be “no,” you’re forcing yourself to really evaluate whether this new commitment of time and energy really lines up with what you want for your life.
You’re going to have to ask yourself if it’s worth trading part of your life for it. And yes it really is that deep!
“No” can be said in many ways, but the message is the same. “I can’t commit to that right now,” or “I need a couple days to think about it (then don’t),” or “that doesn’t work for me right now” or “maybe next time” or possibly even the simpler and direct “no”!
But whatever your approach, the answer “no” stops the time grab and energy sucking going on in your life in its tracks. What you’ll find is that the people and things stealing your joy, your time and your energy soon find another person to feed off of, allowing you to breathe and enjoy your time doing the things you want to be doing.
Of course, there’s no doubt you’ll encounter a lot of resistance when you first start saying “no” – not only from your loved ones – but also from yourself.
And it won’t be easy. But saying “yes” all the time is even harder, and you know it.
Turning commitments down will make you a happier person. It will also have the side effect of making you (dare I say it) more productive because you’ll be freeing up more focus to handle the things that are currently on your plate.
And as your plate gets clearer, your mind will get clearer, too. You’ll start rejecting commitments that add “shallow value” to your life and take on different commitments that feed your sense of self and value and contribution. You’ll become someone who builds a fulfilling life rather than just a life filled with “one more thing.”
I know that this may be a message that you may have heard before but having watched My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 on the plane from New York yesterday I felt like I had to repeat this message selfishly for myself.
Because I saw myself in the woman who played Toula. She made me see that the more I did for my family, the more they relied on me. It was as if I had convinced myself I was the only competent one out of all my siblings, even though this was not the case. I guess I was just the fool who always said yes!
And to be honest, things only really changed when I got married and started living with my husband. I couldn’t be there for them in the same way. There were several things that I would have begrudgingly said yes to, not to rock the boat, that I now had to say no to because it physically wasn’t possible.
Now when people do ask something of me, it matters, it’s important and it’s worthwhile. They’ve learned what I value and they request my time when they know it’s something I’ll find value in.
But I am not going to lie, there is that occasional frantic text for some kind of “needed” support I still get from people but I simply ignore them at least until the next day. I’m not the only one who got the text and someone else who lives to enable other people’s bad decisions will reply right away and rush across town to save the day. But that person is no longer me.
So just a tip; next time an “emergency” shows up, just remember, it’s probably not really an emergency. Most situations have a strange way of working out just fine without you or I being there. So skip it!
And good luck with making no you default answer.
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