Learning How To Say No
Learning to say no is a skill worth learning. Last week I wrote about giving and taking and how I always have been more of a giver than a taker. Giving doesn't mean you always have to say yes. The hardest part of being a giver is how to feel ok about saying no.
Certainly being a parent you learn to say no or maybe but maybe generally means no. It is easier to say no to them than it is to other people in your life. Years ago I hit the wall saying yes to everything. I kind of figured that I could just get it all done. Sure I would be happy to lead that committee, sure I'd be happy to meet with your friend, sure I wouldn't mind sitting on that board, sure I can call everyone in the entire school, sure I can take care of that too. Then I hit overload.
Someone gave me great advice years ago about plotting out the reality of where you spend your time. I used that analysis for how much time I was saying yes to being a good girl giver. Was all that saying yes actually being productive or wouldn't I be more productive if I said yes to the things I really wanted to say yes to.
The first time I was asked to do something I said no to, I do not even remember what it was, but I do remember saying no and how I felt. No, thank you so much for asking me but I just can't. It felt incredibly empowering. It was if a seismic shift was taking place in my life.
My eyes are generally bigger than my stomach but now I say no all the time now. There are several times that I think hard about the opportunities that have been presented before saying no but if it isn't right and I know that the time needed to do it will take away from something I am already married to that deserves real focus and time I feel fantastic saying no. It sucks at first but seconds later it is a sigh of relief.
I do think saying no is harder for a woman than a man. I talk to so many women that have a hard time saying no and of course when they say no they begin the sentence with I am sorry but they shouldn't be sorry. I think saying yes all the time comes from this inner voice that says you can do it, you can save the world, you can fix everything, you can take care of everything, you can help these people, you might enjoy this, you really should do this, you know it will only take a short amount of time, etc.
Saying no has taught me that I can not save the world, I can not help everything that comes my way succeed and tap into me because it will run me ragged, I can not be spread this thin, I can still be a giver, I can still be nice about saying no, I can better balance my day to day life, I can make a bigger impact in the places where I am already involved, I can have some time for myself.
No is a really good word if used properly. I highly suggest making it part of your every day vocabulary.