Why It’s Good to Say “No”

If you are anything like me, you have a hard time saying “no.” I’m a people pleaser. Over the years, I have said “yes” to so many things I wouldn’t necessarily have chosen to do on my own, but I wanted to be helpful. It’s a good trait to have as long as you don’t say yes to everyone else except yourself.

Can you recall a time where you said yes to everything, therefore making your schedule jam packed, only leaving you exhausted and burned out? I can. It was about a month ago. I was not only tired, but my body forced me to slow down by getting a terrible cold. It’s been over 3 weeks since my first symptoms and I’m still dealing with fallout from it. I spent so many hours in bed, napping, reading, or binge watching. I have had to temporarily step away from my physical practice of yoga. Basically, my entire pace of life has drastically changed. And unfortunately, this is not the first time this has happened. My body is pretty smart and if I don’t take time for myself, it will find a way to make sure I do.

But I so enjoying saying yes! I have a long list of goals and projects I personally want to accomplish and inevitably I get brought teaching opportunities frequently. I love teaching and say “yes” if my schedule allows, but I am guilty of overcommitting and not giving myself a day off. I have recognized this and I’m trying to be better. Honestly though, I feel bad when I have to say “no,” especially to subbing. I know how hard it can be to find someone to take over a class for you, so I like to do my due diligence and help out. Plus I feel lucky I have a job I love and want to continue to grow.

Do you see my problem? I like to say “yes” and I’m good at rationalizing it.

I used to be far worse until a wise friend said to me, sometimes you have to say “no” to someone else to say “yes” to yourself. Switching my thought pattern to that has made saying “no” easier. Admittedly, I am much better at saying “no” in a social situation than to a work related event. But you have to start somewhere. If I have any hesitations about going out, whether it’s because I’m not interested in the activity and don’t want to spend the money or I had a long week and need a night in, I will pass. I have always been good about saying “no” from the get-go instead of saying I’ll be there and then bail last minute. Time is a currency and I don’t want to waste anyone’s, including my own. It’s best to make the hard decision at the beginning and stick with it. Plus, if you don’t want to be somewhere, people notice. I want to give my full self when I spend time with my friends and family and sometimes that means recharging myself first.

Work opportunities are harder. There is so much potential for growth and I want to keep moving forward. However, I’m not a new teacher anymore. I have a stable schedule of classes and amazing students that keep coming back. Instead of saying “yes” to everything, now I ask myself a few questions. First and foremost, am I available then? If I am, then I have to look at my entire week. If I’m already taking on 2 or 3 extra opportunities that week, I have to be truthful on how I think I will feel. How many classes am I already teaching that day? Will I be running low on energy by that point? If my answer to that question is “yes”, then I have to say “no.” Another big question I ask is, will I be able to experiment or learn something? If it’s a different style of yoga that I’m interested in but don’t get to teach often, I will always say “yes” if my schedule allows.

Of course that is all a bit specific to my job or those that freelance/work for themselves, but I think we can all take something out of it. If an occasion comes up, figure out what questions you need to ask yourself if your immediate reaction isn’t a HELL YES. Relating to what I said about social situations, if it’s not something you’re excited about or don’t have the energy for, you probably won’t do your best work or be fully present. Contrary to popular opinion, we don’t have to do it all. In my experience, it’s more effective to do less and do it wholeheartedly.

I don’t want this to come off as never do things you don’t want to do. However, don’t do something at the cost of yourself. It is so, so hard, but don’t drain yourself. Say “yes” to you. Do it, and then do it again, and again. The more we practice saying “no,” the more potent our “yes” becomes.

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