Yes, I Mean No

2013-01-29 09.07.16Sigh. Why do the words “Yes” or “No Problem!” or “I’d be glad to” or “Sure thing!” always flow out of my mouth before I can stop them?  The word “yes” to any request comes naturally to me. I truly love to help others. Whether it is genetic or some quirky personality defect or residual guilt from twelve years of Catholic education, I’m not sure. I do know saying “no” is difficult for me, although more and more I find myself saying it. Not so much because I want to, but because I’ve finally realized I can’t do it all anymore.

In years past I ended up being the president of multiple committees, donating to causes I’d never heard of and volunteering hours of time on stuff I really didn’t care all that much about, because I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and always glad to help out. Saying “yes” when I really meant to say “no” often left me feeling resentful inside instead of happy. It took me 43 years, but I figured out the hard way, it’s better to say “yes” only to the things that I really want to do, can afford to do and actually have time for. I’ve learned to bite my tongue when people are seeking volunteers and resist the urge to offer my time when I know I really don’t have it to give.

Instead I’ve limited myself to only one or two volunteer activities at a time. My daughters are also involved in activities and I am responsible for getting them to and from these extra-curricular activities. I want them to participate and have fun. However, that makes little time for my activities. We have dance on Monday’s and Thursday’s and choir/catechism on Wednesday’s. 4-H is every other week on Tuesday’s. We just finished up with basketball and cheerleading, which also landed on Tuesdays with games on Saturdays. In less than a month everything will be finished except 4-H until September. I breath a sigh of relief. I know other mothers who have even more activities on their schedules. I’m dizzy thinking about it.

Anyway as a solution to my “yes” quandry, I decided to volunteer my time to the activities my daughters participate in. I figure if I’m going to be there anyway, I might as well help out.  So I helped coach my daughter’s basketball team earlier this year and currently I’m helping out with the 4-H club and am teaching Sunday school. It’s a win-win…I get to help out and spend time with my daughters. Now when someone asks me to help, I can politely say “I’m sorry, I’m already committed” and decline without being overcome with guilt. And by learning to say “no” as hard as it may be, I now have a bit of time for me – to write, to work out and to just be.

How hard is it for you to say “No?”

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