Rose: Saying “No.”

Lately, I’ve been feeling stretched thin. While doing some reflection for this post, I started thinking about all the things I’ve said yes to lately. Running challenge groups and health-inspired activities. Editing a new online literary journal. Running a half marathon again. Attending a book club at the yoga studio. Participating in a weekly live INSANITY class. Binding three handmade books. Writing freelance articles about science. Oh, and did I mention spending time with M and friends and going on trips? Add to that a jam-packed work schedule which has lately been leaving me exhausted. The list is starting to feel endless.

During times like these, when the anxiety really starts to set in, I ask myself: Why did you say yes to every little thing? I then start to look backwards, seeing how all the projects found their way to my door, and I start strategizing which to tackle first and when, creating a plan to successfully execute ALL THE THINGS. Always forward thinking, I forget to truly be present. But, a week ago, I found myself in a different situation. I was asked to do something, and my first response wasn’t a yes. Instead, it was, “Why?”

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I was asked to help out with something with which I had no desire. Blunt, yes. True, most definitely. But time is now becoming a commodity to me. Something in my gut told me to question this task. The hours in the evenings are so few, and the weekends go so fast. The entire day is most usually a blur. And this wasn’t something I truly wanted to do. I just felt pressured to say yes.

I think we live in a culture where it’s not really okay to say no. With the world whirling past, society puts pressure on us to do it all. At work, you may take on additional assignments because that’s what seems to be expected of you. At home, you may be required to help out, cook dinners, do laundry, clean, whatever. In terms of hobbies, you may be a person who, like me, enjoys many activities. Signing up for all of them seems like a good idea at the time. Or, again like me, you just hate saying no. You hate disappointing someone, and you want to be the super woman of the day.

I am done with this way of thinking. I cannot – and will not – do it all. And that will be okay. The goal? Rid myself of the unnecessary crazy.

I’m not cutting anything out of my current to-do list. That said, I’m not adding anything to it, either. When someone asks me to do something, I now question myself: Does this serve a greater purpose to my life, or those around me? Will this bring me joy? If either of those answers is no, then an rejection will soon follow.

I am still working through all of this, but the book I’m reading by Pema Chodron is really helping. How often I am not truly present … I try and control the world and situations around me when that is simply impossible. Instead, I want to try to better go with the ebb and flow of life, in whatever form that takes. I want to better trust my gut when it comes to decision making.

Instead of robotically saying yes, I want to be guided by the natural rhythm of this world.

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2 thoughts on “Rose: Saying “No.”

  1. I was once in this boat. The best advice I got was actually a question. The other person asked, “How would you feel you were asking me the same thing I’m asking you, and I declined?” Well, obviously I wouldn’t have been upset or thought unkindly of that person just because they turned down whatever I was asking them to do. The other person then asked, “Why do you think I would feel any differently than how you would?”
    Good point, indeed. And it changed how easy it was to really decide – for myself – what I wanted to say “yes” to.

    Now, it’s less about saying “yes” when asked than it is volunteering myself to take on more. I work one full-time and two part-time jobs – coming out to about 50+ hours a week. I volunteer 8-10 hours a month. We meet with friends at *least* twice a month for dinner or socializing. I still feel like I have a lot of free time, down time, time to get bored. So I try to fill it up. Then I get exhausted and stressed, and I start parsing stuff down. It’s a cycle.

  2. Pingback: Rose: Calm Down Already | The Nine to Five Balance

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