We have to learn when to say NO.
Wanting to be there for everyone, for everything, all the time is a wonderful thing… but it will drain you very quickly. I learned that after our move to the US. Then I learned something else…
People who care about you will not love you less if you don’t do exactly what they want.
Those who do are people you shouldn’t let be part of your life anyway. Those people get their ego hurt by you saying no because they can no longer control you.
A few months into our move I felt I should say yes to everything. Well, not everything. I didn’t actually do a lot of things I WANTED to do because I was saying yes to so many things I felt an obligation to say yes to.
I was not only physically drained but more importantly, I was emotionally drained.
By the time I realized it, I was in deep. Stress and anxiety consumed me because I felt I had to pull through or I would disappoint people and if I disappointed them they would reject me. For the first time in a long time, I felt like I was going back to the exhausted overwhelmed zombie I was in when I had PPD. It had to stop.
I was spread way too thin.
When I finally realized I was spread too thin it was by force. I got physically sick and couldn’t do anything else for a while even if I actually wanted to.
I made phone calls to cancel things I had committed to doing and what I heard back were voices of concern and well wishes. Even though people were disappointed, they were ok. What they thought of me didn’t change. I said no and they weren’t upset. This was life-changing. That wasn’t always the case though.
I remember one call specifically, it was one of the first calls I got. They said they hoped I felt better and then after I proceeded to explain how I would be cancelling different things I had planned because I couldn’t leave the house. Then this person proceeded to ask me if I could do something for them since I was no longer busy.
My “no” came out from deep within me. It was like my body was just done with it. When I said no there was complete silence on the other end of the line. Shock. They were offended. I felt the shift in their attitude, but they hoped I got well soon and promptly said “see ya”. The end result? It worked out fine. I still see this person and we are fine. Our relationship changed a bit but it is fine. It is where it needs to be.
We think people will be disappointed with us if we don’t do what they want.
That just isn’t true. People who really care about us understand if we can’t.
You can only spread a tablespoon of peanut butter on so many slices of toast before there is nothing left. Each slice you get a thinner layer of peanut butter. Until you don’t get any. Just as with each thing you do, people around you get a thinner and less fulfilling layer of you.
Do things with purpose. Know when you start to feel you are dragging you can say no. You should say no. Saying no when you are depleted is what is best for you and those around you. When you feel you are dragging it means your tank is getting dangerously close to empty.
People who don’t truly care about us might get angry, but really I see that as them doing me a favor. They are showing their true colors so I know where they should be placed in my life.
So even if someone gets offended, the world will not implode. You are not a bad person for making sure you are ok first.
I was flooded with awareness of what I was doing to myself. I made myself physically ill because I was trying to please others, and not of what I wanted or what would please me. Not only was I physically ill, I was emotionally done. Looking outward I realized my poor family, the ones I cared about the most, had to tolerate mood swings and a person that was not wholly me.
Realizing you can say no is incredibly empowering.
After that first time, I said no after such a long time of trying to do everything for everyone else…I took a breath and realized I could breathe deeper. I hadn’t even noticed the tightness in my chest.
When you keep trying to do everything it slowly consumes you. You think “sure I can fit that in…and that…and that.” All of the sudden you are dragging yourself all over trying to be present, but not actually being present because your mind is on the next thing or something you wish you were doing instead. Maybe your mind is wishing you were at home in bed, or hanging out with friends, or on a secluded island where you don’t have to worry about anything except making sure your tan is even as you sip on your strawberry daiquiri.
I am not saying to say no to everything. It’s important to say yes to things, but I also know how important it is to know when to say no.
Sit back and think about the last month. What have you done because someone else asked you? Of those things, think about one thing you could have said no to? What did you NOT do that you wanted to do because you had another commitment? Was your presence at that commitment impactful enough that it was worth missing the things you missed out on?
I am very careful to not spread myself too thin anymore. Whenever I start to feel I am dragging I stop and make sure to take a break. I do things like saving errands that can wait for later (if we don’t have bananas for 2 more days my family will survive). I also look at activities. Can I stay home and rest on a Saturday and let my hubby take the kids whatever activity they have going on? Yes, I can!
Again, when I spread myself too thin I become zombie me, then I become overwhelmed, which then leads to me not wanting to get out of bed. When I keep these things in mind I remember to focus on keeping my days balanced.
You eventually find your balance.