Learning to say no

I have a hard time with No.

I can use it. I say it every day with the daycare kids and with the dogs. And I use it when I’m asked to upgrade or supersize this or that.

What about when it comes to managing my life and my time, though?

I have a great sense of responsibility – an overdeveloped sense of responsibility, actually. If I say I’m going to do something, well, I’m going to do it!

Even when it means sacrificing me time. Even when it doesn’t make sense. Even when it’s downright stupid.

I took one week of maternity leave because I didn’t want to leave work hanging since, at the time, I was the only person who knew how to do my job. My first daycare kid comes at 6:30 am three days a week. I answer the door when I’m upstairs pumping milk to people I honestly don’t want to talk to. I say yes to just about anything anyone ever asks me as long as I’m actually capable of doing it. Actually, I don’t think it matters if I can do it, I’ll say yes anyway.

Why do I do these things to myself?

I know what the outcome is going to be. I’m going to get burned out, start feeling resentful, and take time away from the things I want to do.

Like read my Bible. Or run (I am running my first marathon this weekend and my last two runs were the last two Saturdays. I’m suppose to taper, but I think this is excessive). Or write. Or read. Or just rest.

Part of it is that I genuinely want to be a helpful person. I want to help people out. I want to be dependable. I want people to be able to count on me. The part I forget about is “at what cost?”

How is what I’m doing affecting my attitude, my mood, and my relationships?

Why am I so afraid of taking care of myself? Why am I so obsessed with not letting people down? I know it’s not convenient for others for me to back out of something I said I’d do if it’s not working, but why continue pushing and trying to make something work that isn’t? Why try to force the issue?

I am so quick to accommodate that I fail to actually think things through. I say yes before I think about how this yes will affect what I already have going on.

In the end, I have to take care of myself first. If I can’t do that, I certainly can’t take care of my daughter. Or my dogs. Or my husband. Or my house. I have to force myself to remember that I am only human, a mere mortal. I can’t do it all, nor should I. I cannot be the answer to everyone’s dilemmas. If I am going to enjoy life and my opportunities, I have to give myself the time do so. When I’m so busy flying from one thing to the next, I don’t have time to enjoy anything.

Do you have a hard time saying no? What works for you to make sure you preserve time for yourself?


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