I just read a great article from Haley on The Tiny Twig on saying “no”. She’s a blogger and mom of three and busy, busy. In her article she shared that she can’t do it all – and that’s okay! I began to think seriously about what I say “no” to. Not enough I learned.
Saying “yes” out of guilt
Maybe it’s part of my curious personality, or guilt from childhood, but I really struggle with saying those two little letters to people in my life. When I came into my current position as a college professor, I found there were so many new and interesting possibilities and opportunities that I just didn’t say no to enough things. And, when I found myself working 50 hours plus per week, I felt trapped and became so depressed I really struggled to complete tasks for daily living. I found myself going to work with yesterday’s makeup touched up and perfume instead of a shower.
Taking care of yourself
I’ve learned to check in with myself, but perhaps more importantly, those individuals in my life whose opinion I respect on topics of goals, tasks and projects. I’ve also learned that when you are a compulsive “yesser”, that when you do finally gain the insight to begin saying no to a few things people really find it difficult to accept. But no matter, I must take care of my health and so I’m learning to say no to more and more things in my life. Here are just a few of them.
Things I say “no” to
* Arguing. It’s just not worth my time and energy to engage in arguments or other conflict with people I work with or, even family members. Live and let live has begun to take on new meaning for me. Especially when I came to the realization that I can’t view my grown children’s lives through my 50 year old lens. The world is a different place for them. So, I do a lot more listening than speaking and sometimes, I have to end the conversation completely when I realize it’s causing me stress and anxiety.
*Pretending. Pretending I’m happy or okay with something when I’m not, just no longer has any interest for me. I am what I am. What you see is what you get and I don’t have time or energy for fake or false people. Oh, there are those who I have to deal with, but only on a superficial level. And I watch my back more than I used to. It’s a shame. But that’s the way it is.
*Driving the freeway. This may sound silly, especially to those who know I grew up in Los Angeles, but driving on the freeway causes added stress and anxiety. I don’t have the energy to drive that fast and don’t have the energy to keep up with the flow. So, I plan accordingly, and unless I’m driving out of town, which I have to do occasionally for work, I take surface streets at a leisurely, but posted, speed. I have time to think about what I’m going to do once I get to my destination, or to reflect on the events that occurred as I leave and head home.
*Perfection. This is a really tough area for me. I really want my house spotless when I have a guest, or a project finished with just the right touch. I am beginning to learn to let that shit go. Those that matter, won’t mind. And those that mind, don’t matter. Seriously. Do your best and move on. If I have a few hairballs on my kitchen floor from my two big dogs when I have a guest for a coffee date, they’d better not look too closely then, or, they can decline to come to my home. After doing my doctoral dissertation, I’ve learned that sometimes – sometimes – good is good enough and I save my energy for those things that really matter.
*Comparisons. Each year my neighbors delight in exchanging Christmas cookies. I think it’s very kind and a nice thought. But I don’t have time to bake for the entire neighborhood. I barely get the granola in my own bowl of yogurt, let alone trying to do what everyone else does. I spend my energy on the things I feel are important – not what someone else thinks. This is, after all, my one wild and precious life to spend as I see fit.
So take some time to really think about what you say “yes” to. How does that make you feel? Is this really something you want to spend time out of your life on? I’ve come to realize that I’d rather spend my time on things that bring me joy, delight and happiness; not on things someone else thinks are important. What are you learning to say “no” to, and how has it changed your life?
Photo by Franco d’albao