My friend, Shelly, realized she was overloading her schedule the night she missed her daughters' dance recital. As the daughter of parents who never supported her, Shelly had promised herself she’d always make being there for her kids her top priority.
From that day on, Shelly decided she would begin embracing the word no and apply it to any situation that wasn’t a good fit for her and her family. She said no to the committee she’d been running and invited someone else to take over. She took a hard look at her social calendar and began declining events that would take away from her family time.
Within a few weeks, Shelly felt like a new woman. Not only was she able to be there for her daughters' important milestones, she was also more energized and happier than she’d been in years.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE SAY NO
It’s tempting to believe that if you say no to that next event or opportunity that the world will somehow collapse. But the truth is that “no” rarely means we miss out—it’s often the opposite. By saying no, we get to create more of what we want in life. If you’re having trouble with this word, here are just a few of the amazing things benefits you can expect when you use your “no” more often…
Free to Be Present
When you’re overbooked and stressed, you’re constantly focused on the future. You’re looking at your phone and scanning it for the next event on your calendar rather than paying attention during that important client meeting. You’re worrying about how you’re going to get everything on your to-do list crossed off when you’re at the park with your child.
But the more you say no, the more you create that beautiful margin in your life that we talked about in Part 1. That means you don’t have to rush from one event to the next, constantly worried about what’s upcoming. Instead, you can relax and fully enjoy the current moment. You’re finally free to be present.
Free to Be Happy
So much stress stems from trying to do too much in too little time. While cramming activities into your to-do list might temporarily give you a charge, doing it consistently will make you cranky and overextended.
But when you say no and only take on what you know you can realistically accomplish, you’ll feel happier. You don’t have the pressure of twenty-five million undone tasks sitting on your list. Instead, you focus on achieving what you can and you let everything else slide away.
Free to Experience Energy
When was the last time you woke up and looked forward to tackling your day? When was the last time you felt joy when you contemplated your to-do list? When was the last time you felt you could greet the day with an expectant spirit?
Make the word no a frequent part of your vocabulary and watch how your life changes. You’ll discover energy you didn’t know you had. You’ll find there’s suddenly time to do the things you’ve always wanted to. You’ll explore new projects and opportunities and you’ll do so with joy.
WHY WE STRUGGLE TO SAY NO
You’re at a point where you recognize you need to say no more often. Maybe you’re experiencing mental, emotional, or physical symptoms of too much stress such as insomnia, hypersomnia, anxiety, depression, or irritability.
But even when you’re clearly overworked and exhausted, it can still be difficult to say no. Understanding why you’re struggling with this liberating word can be the key to using it more often…
You Don’t Want to Disappoint Others
Many people push well past their limits in an effort not to disappoint others. Perhaps you encourage your kids to sign up for every extra-curricular activity they want to because you weren’t able to participate as a child yourself. Maybe you simply worry that if you tell your co-worker no, they’ll be disappointed and won’t view you as a team player.
But you can’t give what you don’t have. If you try to spend money you don’t have, you have to swipe your credit card. If you try to spend “yeses” you don’t have, you’ll have to swipe the energy and time credit card. Just like a financial credit card comes with interest, you will have to pay interest on your energy or time credit card. This interest is usually in the form of aches and pains, exhaustion, dread, difficulty with focusing, or constant anxiety.
Society’s Messages Are Influencing You
Sometimes, we simply fail to say no because we’ve been programmed not to. We think there’s something noble or honorable about being overloaded and burned out. Consider for a moment how often you hear words like “busy” and “hustle” in a positive sense. Yet words like relaxation and self-care are often associated with slacking off.
But in order to reclaim your no, you’ll have to reject society’s belief that busy automatically equals good. Sometimes, busy is simply exhausting. Sometimes, busy is anything but healthy. The next time you hear someone say busy, try to replace the word in your mind with overworked. Ask yourself if you really want to be that way.
You Feel Guilty or Selfish
For some people, saying no is a struggle because they feel guilty or selfish if they step back and take the time they need. Maybe you believe you should always be productive or that it’s your job to keep everyone around you happy.
But are these things really true? Do you always need to be productive or will the world continue to go on without you fussing over every little thing? Is it really your job to keep your family and friends happy? And if so, who’s worrying about your happiness? Don’t you deserve to be included in that count?
Once you get clarity around why you struggle with saying no, your eyes are opened. This means you can make different choices, ones that honor who you are and allow you to create the life and career of your dreams.
Remember, our daughters are watching us. Set the example. You don't want to watch them become mothers with a full-time job who never say, ‘no' to the point that they're overworked and exhausted.