No, no, no. One of the first words a child learns how to say is “no.”
“Put your coat on so we can go outside.”
“You want to stay inside?”
It doesn’t matter the question, for the child the answer is often, “no.”
By the time we are young adults, no has been pushed out of our vocabulary. Sometimes this is good. After all, telling our parents, teachers, other adults in our life, “no” often results in trouble.
Except, once we forget how to use the word we sometimes overload ourselves.
“Can you do. . .””
“Do you have time to . . .?”
It doesn’t matter the project or activity we are asked to do, too often the answer is “yes” when, “no” is the better choice.
Organizations we belong to need us to be an officer, or spearhead a drive, or take charge of an activity. Our church needs a Sunday School teacher, or a youth leader, or someone to help out in one of the ministries. Too often it doesn’t matter how full our plate is, we take on one more responsibility.
The extra chore we take on, combined with all of our other duties and interests, soon has us weighed down, exhausted, even resentful. By not saying, “no” we make life harder. For us, for those who love us, for those who are depending on us.
A “no” means we have time to take care of those projects we are already involved in. A “no” to extra work means we have time to do the activities we are working on better. A “no” means we don’t wear ourselves out and risk a visit to the doctor, or worse, the hospital.
The beauty of using the word “no” is that is allows others to step up and shine. It means we are healthier and more involved. It means we can have a better relationship with those in our lives. A “no” isn’t a rejection, it is an acceptance of a fuller, more fulfilled life. It is empowering to others as they step up to fill the empty position.
It’s not just other people we say yes to either. Sometimes we overload ourselves and put ourselves in stressful situations because we didn’t tell ourselves, “no.” We stress ourselves out with our expectations of ourselves.
We decide we are going to make all our Christmas cards and that we’re going to mail one to every person we know, or we might decide a Christmas letter is the way to go. Both are fine ideas, if we start on them before December 15, and if we don’t add a Christmas sack full of other projects to the line up.
If cards and letters aren’t our downfall, we have other ways to overload. Having a party or get-together, or simply filling our days, and evenings with activities. At some point we become exhausted, overloaded, and stressed.
The simple solution, easier said than done, is to say “no.” Before we tack on one more activity, consider if it’s something important enough to warrant the time and stress. If so, is there a way to streamline and make it less time consuming and difficult.
This might mean scaling back a little, taking help where we can. We want to have a group gathering? Make it a potluck, let everyone participate and bring something. Want to send out cards or emails? Do them in batches, five or six at a time.
Do what gives your pleasure, say “no” to those activities that aren’t necessary for your well-being or life enjoyment.
When was the last time you said, “no” to yourself?
When was the last time saying “no” would’ve been the better option for you?