Learning How to Say “No”

Learning How to Say “No”

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One would think that saying “no” is just a natural thing. I’m sure parents will tell you it’s all they hear their kids say some days. But somewhere along the line I forgot how important it can be to invoke the two-letter word and more importantly how to recognize when I’ve had enough. 

With the end of grad school and my burgeoning excitement about the excess of time I would have to do things, I was quickly reminded of a topic that many women struggle with. Learning to say no. 

As you all know, when school came to an end my mind was racing with wonderful, dreamy ideas about how I would spend my free time (see the list here). So far I haven’t actually accomplished very much on that list (ha) but I did do a great job of overwhelming myself and committing to too many obligations. Why do we do this to ourselves? …Seriously?! 

Last week I found myself in the middle of a freak out because I forgot just how important it is to have “me time.” I volunteered for too many activities that required a lot of time and all of the sudden I was feeling stressed again. The activities became a chore I dreaded instead of a volunteer experience that I looked forward to. I knew deep down that these activities shouldn’t feel like such a burden. I also had to acknowledge that as much as I love socializing I have to have my alone time as well. Some people don’t need this, but I do. Without I feel stretched out and all over the place. 

So on one hand I was sitting there feeling completely overwhelmed and in the next breath extremely guilty at the thought of dropping one of the commitments. While I was stressing over this one night, Nathan simply sat and rationalized with me about my options and tried to make me feel better about what I knew I needed to do. I went to bed with a clear conscience.

However, the next morning I woke up and had this random desire to get involved in the Big Sister program. “I would be an awesome big sister!” I thought. “I always wanted a little sister and this would be a great use of my time.” (Face Palm). Once I realized what I was doing I shook my head and remembered my breakthrough from the night before. It would be foolish to fall into the same predicament once again. Upon telling one of my friends about this she smiled and said, “You caught the do-gooder trait.” We talked a little bit about why women and mothers in particular so often find themselves in this predicament. Is it just a part of our DNA? Perhaps we are just naturally inclined to do more and serve others. It’s not a bad trait to have but it is just as important to have the power to say “no” 

So after dropping an activity (and deciding it would be wise not to pick up another) I am happy to report I feel much more peaceful and relaxed. It may be human nature as a wife and/or mother to want to volunteer for everything and overextend ourselves. But the reality is if we don’t take care of our priorities first then we can’t truly serve others. 

Have you ever found yourself in this predicament before? Maybe it’s time for you to start practicing “no” as well… 🙂