I was recently stopped cold when I read this quote by Shauna Niequist in her book, "Present Over Perfect".
“People love it when you say yes, and they get used to it – they start to figure out who the people are who will always say yes, always come through, always make it happen…but, if you’re not careful with your yeses, you start to say no to some very important things without even realizing it...All my yeses brought me to a shallow way of living – an exhausting, frantic lifestyle that actually ended up having little resemblance to that deep, brave yes I was searching for.”
I was totally blown away by this because I realized that I had been saying "yes" to so many things for so long, that I had kind of forgotten that it really is okay to say "no" sometimes. Even when:
* I really want to say yes.
*Everyone around me believes I should say yes.
*I don't have a really good, legitimate, solid reason not to say yes.
Even then. I can still say no.
Not this time.
Thanks, but no thanks.
Not only no, but hell no, and don't ask me again.
Whatever way I, or you, choose to say no, it is perfectly within our rights as grown-up persons who are in charge of our own lives and happiness to say it. And we can say it as often as we need to. If you need permission, as I did, to finally stand up and say no to certain things, I'm giving it to you. Like, right now.
So many times, I have said yes to something only to later feel resentful for "having" to do the thing I said yes to in the first place. I can see now how utterly ridiculous this was, but at the time, I sincerely thought I was doing the right thing.
"Will you be on this committee?" Yes.
"Will you teach this guy how to stop eating butter?" Absolutely.
"Will you plan a family reunion that you're not even going to attend?" No problem.
Will you dress up in pioneer clothing and walk in the wilderness for 3 days? Sure.
"And while you're there, would you be willing to sing a duet, cook for 300 people, and teach a square dance?" Why not?
Like Shauna said so beautifully, people love it when you say yes. And because you say yes, and you sincerely want to help, you'll be asked again and again and again.
I'm not saying that volunteering or participating in worthy causes is a bad thing. It's totally not. What I am saying is that it is up to you, and only you, what you give your time and attention to. And since you are the ultimate authority on you, deep down, you know -- you feel in your gut -- which ones are worthy of your efforts. And which ones are better left for the next schmuck in line.
When my youngest son was around 14 or 15, I was spending an insane amount of time and energy volunteering for various projects that required time away from my family. One day, Devin asked me, "Mom, when are you going to choose me?"
Stab to the heart.
I replied, "Right now." And I did. I chose someone I loved very much over something else I also loved - just not nearly as much as I love my son.
I gave myself permission to put some boundaries in place, so that, in the future, my son wouldn't have to ask me to spend more time with him. I jumped off the Crazy Train, and I've never looked back. Never. Not even once.
These days, I am not over-scheduled, frantically running from this obligation to that one, and I'm okay with that. When I do say yes, it comes from my heart and soul, not from a place of guilt, obligation, or fear. And that feels freaking fabulous.