Saying “no”

In 1963, Andy Williams recorded a Christmas Song that starts with “It’s the most wonderful time of the year”. This IS a wonderful time of the year. Unfortunately, it also seems to be a time of year when many of us end up overwhelmed, exhausted and burned out.

Last week I wrote about attainable goals. Today, I’d like to talk about saying “no” (not just during the holidays but all year long).

Saying “no” has been a challenge for me. I tend to be a “people pleaser”. More times than I’d like to admit I’ve said “yes” to things I really didn’t want to do because I didn’t have the courage, strength of conviction, or moxy to say “no”.

Setting limits is really tough for many of us.

Not being able to say “no” impacts a peaceful home in so many ways:
If you can’t say “no” to more stuff being brought into your house, you often create clutter and chaos.
If you can’t have an honest conversation with the adults you live with, and say “no” to unreasonable expectations, you could end up feeling like a doormat.
If you can’t say “no” to children who depend on you, how will they ever survive in a world that doesn’t have the same level of care about their “wants” as you do.
If you can’t say “no” to one more after work get-together, weekend activity, or charity event (no matter how good the cause) you can become over-committed very quickly and end up having little or no energy to be “present” in your own home.

Sometimes you need “no” to create balance or structure or health or simply peace of mind.
“no you can’t stay out until 10:00”
“no I cannot help with the high school dance”
“no I won’t throw a party”
“no, I don’t want to join that club”
“no, you cannot have a phone at 7 years old”
“no, I am not able to take on that extra responsibility”
“no you cannot leave the table while we’re still talking”
“no, I would not like to entertain 20 of your friends on Friday night”
“no, I’m not able to head that committee”

Sometimes we say “no” but add “I have an appointment” or “the kids have soccer” or “ask me again sometime” or “I’d really enjoy that, but…”All those additions to “no” leave the door open for the request to made again later. That’s fine IF you’re interested in participating at another time, but if it’s something you really don’t want to do, simply say, “that won’t work for me” or “I’m sorry but I’m not able to help”. Don’t lie, don’t defend, don’t get nervous and don’t add “maybe another time”.

Twice, recently, I’ve stepped down from volunteer positions. Both non-profit organizations are very important to me and in both situations it was tough to have those conversations. I had fulfilled all my responsibilities and knew I had made a considerable contribution of time. It was simply time to step down.When you do make a commitment, see it through to a reasonable conclusion, but don’t stay on because of guilt or pressure. If you decide you want to volunteer time, choose something that feels right for you. Don’t volunteer at a dog shelter if you don’t like dogs, at a senior center if you don’t like stories, or at a school if you don’t like children.  I know that sounds like common sense but I’ve met plenty of people who’ve taken on roles that didn’t speak to their passions at all, just because they couldn’t say “no”. Just because you’re able to do something, doesn’t mean that you should do it.

CHOOSE what you want to add to your schedule. We give up our power when we allow others to dictate how we spend our time.  Not having the energy or desire to do something is okay.  You probably think about what you spend your money on. What are you “spending” your time on? Look at the hours you have daily as the “time currency” of that day. Decide how to spend them, just like you decide how to spend your money.

Some folks are really good at not taking “no” for an answer. I know a few people who pride themselves on that, and will sit there silently until SOMEONE (who didn’t want to say “yes”) steps up so that the waiting game is over. Don’t let another person guilt you into doing what you don’t want to do.

When you’re frazzled, overwhelmed or simply exhausted, listen to the things that you’re saying (aloud or to yourself) about what you still have to accomplish. “I still have to read my son a bedtime story” sounds a lot more important than “I still have to make another batch of chocolate chip cookies”. The cookies you can buy…the bedtime story is irreplaceable. 

As we move through this holiday season let’s:
get some God-time in each day
ask for help
make plans that are reasonable
seek balance
not over commit
remember what’s important to say “yes” to
give ourselves permission to say “no” 

I’d love to make this the “most wonderful time of the year”. Who’s with me?
©2014 Peace Full Home


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