“When you say no to others you open up space to say yes to yourself.”
There is power in the word “No”. How often do you say it as a complete sentence; no qualifier or explanation to follow, simply No.
Children are great at this. When they don’t want to do or say something, they boldly declare, “No”. It’s certain, unwavering and absolute. As we get older we learn to be polite and enact our social graces. The word no becomes diluted and unintentionally evolves into a maybe. Instead of no, we start to say things like:
I’m not sure.
I don’t think so.
Let me think about it.
I might be able to.
Let me see.
The next thing you know, you find yourself agreeing to something you wanted to or should have said no to.
This is a personal struggle of mine. I like helping others and am interested in so many things that I find myself saying yes to almost everything. I have good intentions of fulfilling all of my commitments, but recently I have been dropping the ball. I am over committed because I am saying yes to things that I need to say no to.
When I do this one of three things happens:
- I do it and feel exhausted
- I do it with a negative attitude
- I cancel at the last minute
Each outcome leaves me feeling disappointed in myself. When I say yes to something I should feel energized and excited, not depleted. What I realized was that I had developed a positive and negative association with the words yes and no. If I say yes, it means that I’m doing something positive = good person, and if I say no, it means I am a letting someone down = bad person.
But what if by saying yes to others, I am letting myself down?
I was overwhelmed, tired and stressed. So I took drastic measures and cleared my entire schedule for the week, and replaced previous commitments to others with things that I wanted to do for myself (rest, relax, watch TV, read, go for a walk). While this strategy worked fine in this moment, I needed to find a longer term solution that would keep me from getting to this point. So I came up with four questions that I ask myself to determine when I need to say no.
- Is it something I have/need to do? If no, continue to next question
- Does it interest/excite/uplift me? If yes, continue to next question
- Does it align with my top priorities? If yes, continue to next question
- Does it require a personal sacrifice? If yes, say No.
How do you keep yourself from over committing?