Don't Be Afraid To Say "No"Sep 26, 2022
This past spring, I was juggling a lot.
We women in this community juggle a lot every day, but it was one of those times where several major things were thrown at Chris and I simultaneously.
I was struggling more than usual to balance all of the things.
One evening in the middle of it all, I decided to sit down and attend a coaching call in my blogging mastermind group. Within 30 seconds of me being on the call, the coach said, "Remember that when you say "yes" to something that isn't a priority, you are likely saying "no" at the same time to something that is."
I was completely stressed out about my "lack of time" to attend to the things that I WANTED to attend to because I was so busy saying "yes" to things that I did NOT want to attend to!
My "lack of time" was completely self-induced!
It seems obvious, but for me, that evening, it was a revelation that I needed to hear. It set wheels in motion for me to make moves I had been avoiding. The following week, I had a talk with my boss and since that talk, have been fading out of my career with children and families on the autism spectrum.
It's no coincidence that I went on shortly after that to begin my "summer of being present." To making a concerted effort to embrace the moments that I was in. To enjoy them without worrying about other things.
Often, those things that I spent time worrying about were things that had no likelihood of even happening!
What a waste of precious time.
We've Spent Our Lives Saying "Yes"
To everyone else.
Take a look at your life and history. Do you ever remember saying "no" when you were needed to volunteer at school, kids' sports, scouts, work things, hosting this or that to accommodate a spouse's career, etc?
The list goes on and on.
We said yes even though we were tired. Juggling roles. Many of us trying to prioritize family while working.
And many of us continue to do this.
This Is, In Large Part, a "Woman" Issue
Although I see this changing (albeit VERY slowly), women definitely have more trouble saying "no" to those around us than men do. We are raised to be caretakers and to not make waves.
Sadly, our society often portrays strong women who seemingly have no problem saying "no" as bitches while men who do this are considered to be smart and powerful. They are viewed in a more positive light than their female counterparts.
We Take Great Lengths to Avoid Conflict with Those Around Us
Not all of us, but I would venture to say, most of us do this. It's just easier to say yes, than to open ourselves up to possible conflict with the person asking.
This is particularly true if the "asker" is a family member, particularly child, grandchild, or spouse.
We Don't Want to Disappoint
Again, especially if the asker is a child or spouse.
Hand in hand with this is that we fear rejection by others in our lives.
Our brains tell us that saying "yes" will help us avoid this rejection that is "certain to happen."
But, What Happens When We Say "Yes" to Everything?
In spite of ourselves, we begin to resent those who have asked us to do the thing, particularly if it's not in a category that we consider to be a top priority.
We also get angry at ourselves for saying "yes" yet again. And feeling crappy about ourselves is not helpful. It doesn't serve us.
We continue to suffer from stress and exhaustion.
Often, the result of this is that we get nothing accomplished because we dwell on the negative thoughts.
We Really Aren't Able to Find the Time
The largest barrier that stands in the way of the women in this community, is a perceived lack of time. We often spend our days reacting to the needs of those around us. We end each day truly wondering where the day went and why we, once again, didn't get to take the time to work on the goal specifically for us.
A large part of the reason for this, for many of us, is because we continue to say yes to everyone. And, as a result, are continuing to say "no" to ourselves.
How Can I Break This Lifelong Habit?
Pick Out No More Than Three Priorities
Take some time to sit down and consider your ideal day and week as you move forward. Who is a part of it? What are you doing? How do you carry yourself? What are you wearing? Really think about and write out the details.
As you look back over it and reflect on it, what are your 3 priorities on The Right Side of 50?
For me at this stage it's family, writing, and my health. Plain and simple.
That's not to say that there aren't other roles in my world. But, those three are my priorities. The other roles go to the back burner and when there is time (after my priorities), they get a bit of my attention.
Schedule Time for YOU Each Day
This time is spent doing something specifically for YOU. No one else.
Whether it's journaling, exercising, writing a book, starting a business, spending an hour on a favorite hobby.
This time must be put on your calendar and treated as you would any other appointment with another person. The time must be respected.
This time is THE most important time in our days at any stage of our lives. And, it's time for us to start respecting that and acting on it!
I will argue that saying learning to say "no" is one of the best forms of self care that exists.