You’d think saying no would be easy, wouldn’t you? It’s a tiny word – only two letters! Yet it’s something that many of us find difficult to say. It’s something that comes up time and time again when I talk with my clients.
And it isn’t a new phenomenon – the American writer, Josh Billings, famously said:
“Half of the troubles of this life can be traced to saying yes too quickly and not saying no soon enough”.
Now, I’m not sure exactly when he said that – but he died in 1885 so it was sometime before then! So, it’s definitely not something that’s only become an issue in recent times. Which, to me, backs up the fact that over-committing to things is something that somehow gets programmed into us. Perhaps because of our natural need to seek approval from others. We naturally want to help people – it makes us feel good. But somewhere along the line, we forget that it’s ok to sometimes say no.
If you have a particularly busy life – a large family, demanding job etc – fitting in time for others has to be seen as something that you do when time permits. Not something that you shoehorn into your already packed day. And if you’re also battling a chronic illness that means you’re starting the day with less energy than the norm, this is even more important.
Self-care is allowed! Give yourself permission to put yourself (or your job, family etc) first. Say “no” more – and do it with conviction. And if those feelings of guilt start to kick in, acknowledge that state and tell yourself that you’re doing the right thing. If need be, physically make a gesture to ‘push’ that feeling of guilt away. Stay strong in the knowledge that you’ve made absolutely the right decision for YOU at that time.
When life does gives you the space, energy and desire to be able to say ‘yes’ – do so with a smile and enjoy the positive glow it gives you. Whether it be joining friends for a fun social evening, giving a friend a lift to the airport – or perhaps even agreeing to help someone fill in their tax return!
In any case, whether you’re saying no or yes to something – take your time, remember wise old Josh Billings, and don’t rush your decision.