I was compelled to re-post this article, with a new title, because it always seems to have relevance. Lately, I have noticed that I have been spreading myself thin more than ever before, agreeing to donate my time and resources to people and projects I don’t necessarily feel are worthy of my attention. Though I have a very generous nature, I also become extremely annoyed when I notice that someone is taking advantage of my kindness and assuming that I will always open my door and my heart.
There have been a couple of situations I have allowed to get out of hand recently, in which I have sacrificed time which I need to devote to paid endeavors and life balance. It’s always difficult to pull back the reins and say no to good friends, but I have become increasingly resentful after finding myself rushing to get my chores done in time to donate my time on a regular basis.
This new determination to say NO when I have a plate which is overflowing is still something I struggle with, but enough is enough. Whether it is a brand requesting that I create a post for pennies, a friend asking me to provide personal training right smack dab in the middle of the day several days a week for free, people contacting me for curbside consults which they don’t want to pay for, or a supposed friend nickeling and diming me about my charges for medical treatments, I’m not nearly as amenable to doling out the favors as I used to be. I am mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually, and financially drained from saying yes altogether too often.
So do you find yourself agreeing to do something when you are either completely unmotivated to do it, or are so over-burdened by other responsibilities that you know you are taking on an impossible schedule? Maybe you’re known as the “nicest person” who always manages to make time for everybody no matter what. And maybe you don’t want people to think otherwise about you, despite the fact that your energy and your patience are worn thin by people who always seem to drain the very lifeblood from you, and expect you to do everything for them at the drop of a hat.
Have you ever considered using the word NO once in a while? By setting limits and boundaries, you will keep energy vampires at bay, and you give yourself a chance to balance out your life so that you don’t burn yourself out. I am sure that the people who have taken your availability for granted will be stunned when you respond to a request with NO, but they’ll get used to it. Whenever I gather the courage to refuse a request, a feeling of complete relief washes over me, especially if I feel like I am drowning in the wide expanse of my to-do list.
When you refuse a request, task, or invitation, you finally allow yourself to take a break. As long as you aren’t shirking responsibilities, you absolutely should feel like you deserve to clear the space around you, especially if you are in dire need of recharging your own batteries. There’s something I say to patients quite frequently, and that is, remember to put the oxygen mask over your OWN face. If you don’t nurture yourself, you won’t perform as well in all the roles you play in your life, whether it’s employee, boss, parent, spouse, etc.
It’s completely acceptable to draw the line in the sand, and to establish boundaries which preserve your sense of self and which keep your life, and your spirit, balanced and happy. If you are having difficulty asserting yourself and getting to the power of NO, then try this: whenever someone asks you for a favor or invites you somewhere, just say that you need to think about it or check your schedule, which is not a lie, and that you will let that person know soon. That gives you a window of time to evaluate the situation, and to determine if you have the time or the resources to accommodate the invitation or request.
Another important consideration is whether you have the inclination to take part in the task or event. Be honest with yourself! I see too many people agree to do things they don’t want to do, then they are steeped in misery. This doesn’t give you permission to be difficult, selfish, or uncooperative, but it certainly gives you some breathing room. If your heart isn’t in it, then don’t do it!
Remember that you will be better equipped to serve others if you take care of yourself first.