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Just Say No-vember: The Importance of Saying No

I just can’t. I have hit my limit.

It’s time to say no. If you are anything like me, notifications from Doodle Pool, Volunteer Spot, or Sign-Up Genius currently fill your inbox. I find myself scrolling through sign-ups, holding my breath in hopes that no one has filled the coveted “paper plates” slot in sign-ups for conference weeks, potlucks, or end-of-the-season parties.

I want to help with every request. I honestly do.

But, my ‘to-do’ list is out of control these days. There are so many demands coming from so many directions. As a teacher, a mother, a wife, a sister, a friend… we fill a lot of different roles in our lives. And every role seems to come with so many expectations.

Just Say No-vember: The Importance of Saying No

If I say yes to these requests, I know I will be adding one more thing to my already overflowing plate. If I say no, I feel the guilt start seeping in. I am now “that mom” or “that teacher” that didn’t contribute, doesn’t care, or *gasp* forgot that she said yes to begin with.

Guilt. Oh, the guilt.

Guilt comes from feeling like you have violated your own ethic or moral code. I know as a teacher, I should write letters of recommendation for my students. I realize that as a participant, my daughter should take a turn in supplying a snack. I understand that as a mother, I should volunteer at my children’s schools. But, please know that if I drop the ball on these things, I am doing the best I can.

We are often pressured by others into saying yes. 

From a very early age, we teach our children to say yes. We encourage them to be agreeable, to please others. Yet, as this continues into adulthood and we say yes to everyone else, we often are left inadvertently saying no to the ones that need us most.

I want my children to grow up knowing that it is okay to say no. We don’t need to please everyone. As my children navigate middle school and high school, their friends will encourage them to try things they know they shouldn’t. I want them to feel empowered to tell them no. If they go on a date and feel like things are moving too quickly, I want them to feel confident in saying “enough”. When the pressure becomes too much and they need a break I want them to know when to say “I just can’t right now”.

We need to be a model for our children.

If we want this for our kids, why don’t we accept the same thing for ourselves?  We need to start saving our yes’s for those who truly need them and let go of the guilt.

If I say no to chaperoning the school dance, please realize it is because I am saying yes to being with my family. If I say no to a sleepover at a friend’s house for my daughter, I am saying yes to her getting some much-needed sleep at home. When I say no to dropping off one more casserole, it is not because I don’t care about our group or organization. I know it seems like a small request. But lots of small requests add up to the loss of my sanity.

You don’t need a reason to say no.

Perhaps the most important thing to know is that we don’t need to defend or justify saying no. We can say no and end it at that. We draw healthy boundaries for our children, but we need to start drawing healthy boundaries in our own lives.

I don’t need to be guilted into saying yes. I also don’t need a reason for saying no. By saying no we create a space for a healthy version of ourselves to grow.

As soon as we start saying yes to others’ priorities we compromise our own identity and what we value and hold dear. That is not selfless. That is careless. We need to realize when we are saying yes to other people’s priorities we are often saying no to our own.

When you say no, you sometimes let people down. However, when you say yes, we often end up letting ourselves down.

Our physical health.

Our mental health.

The health of our closest relationships.

Instead of using my time to say “yes” to things, I am going to spend November restructuring my thought process to say “thanks” for things.

Thank you for stepping up to volunteer for the organization or school that I care about. Thank you for doing what I can’t right now. Thank you for not making me feel guilty when I said no. Everyone needs a cheerleader. I think I’ll fill that role instead. 

What have you said “no” to lately? Did you feel guilty?

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