I have always been horrible at telling people no. I feel so guilty for not committing to something I get asked to do. What inevitably happens when you are a “yes” person? You end up overwhelmed and exhausted. Something else I didn’t expect happens, too. When you always say yes, people learn to expect that answer from you.
Very early on in our sessions, my therapist and I talked about learning to say no. I came to her as an exhausted, depleted ball of mama anxiety who felt like I had to be there for anything anyone asked of me. Even if I didn’t want to. Especially if I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings by admitting that I wasn’t interested.
One thing she said to me, and to be honest she has said it more than once, is that by exhausting myself and over-committing, it takes away from my own family. That all that energy is energy that could be spent with the boys. That I didn’t owe anyone anything, except to show up for myself and my family.
For me, having an outside reminder of what my priorities and responsibilities should be is really important. I get lost in the hustle, and forget the basics. If I say yes to everyone and everything, there isn’t enough of me left to devote to the 3 boys in my life who matter the most to me.
Last session she reminded me that I don’t even have the time I want to spend with Dading- how can I devote my time to someone else? That shook me, guys. I had totally overlooked that.
The first time I said no, the backlash was intense. Guilt trips and aggravation from the people I cancelled on. I was so frustrated, because I was doing what I needed to for myself and my family and I was being faulted for that?! When I talked to my therapist about it, she said people weren’t used to me saying no, and they were going to have to adjust. I had basically conditioned everyone with my behavior, and they were going to have to come to terms with the new me.
Flash forward a few months, and being able to say no (mostly without guilt trips) has been the most liberating thing in my life. Making time for the things I WANT to do has made life much more enjoyable. Cancelling things when I overbook us makes me feel great! I feel proud of myself for prioritizing what’s important, and also managing expectations for how much actual time I have to do the things I need to do and want to do.
If you’re like me, saying no is seriously so hard to do. People don’t always understand, and even now they get upset with me. But I am making myself a priority, and that means making decisions people may not always like. Stand firm, and don’t feel like you have to show up for everything and everyone. You’re one person, and you are important too.