Creating Boundaries Creates Happiness: Part 1
Welcome back to our first blog series! Today I'm going to go over point one on our list of key boundaries that will help you create happiness on your path to becoming a better you. It's called, "It's Okay To Say No".
Listen, I'm going to keep it real; when you start saying "no" more often and you're a people-pleaser, it's gonna feel scary. If you're like me, you're going to feel lots of guilt. When I think back at the times I've said "no"- whether it be to clients or jobs, friends or sport commitments for my kids, family get-togethers, activities with my coworkers and friends, thoughts of doubt start swirling around in my head. Things like, "I can't believe I just said that! They hate me. They aren't going to invite me to do anything ever again. Now they think I'm a jerk. I was too harsh. I should have said less. I should have said more. I just blew it with that client/friend/family member. I need to apologize.." I'm telling you, it's a black hole way of thinking. And looking back, sometimes I was right in my decision to say no, and sometimes I was totally wrong. FOMO is real people. But seriously, I'm proud of myself that I did what I thought was best at that moment.
There are no easy answers on how to know to say "yes or no" to something for yourself or your kids, but here are some key questions I ask myself and hopefully it helps you too!
- Does the thing I'm committing to take time/money/energy away from my family and loved ones?
- If that answer is "yes", is the thing I'm taking on or committing to worth that sacrifice?
- Will this help me (or my family) grow in some way?
- Will this bring more happiness into my home?
- Does this commitment contribute positively to something bigger than myself?
I'm going to leave out my dude followers for just a sec and say if you're a mom, you have it the hardest when it comes to saying no. Not only have the challenge of managing your own time and energy commitments, you also have the task of managing your children's time and commitments as well. I want to say, sister, you are crushing this mom thang!! But I want to tell you a secret, from one motha to anotha- saying "no" more often will lower your anxiety and stress level, as well as your kiddo's at the same time. My kids are pretty go-with-the flow and would agree to pretty much any activity I signed them up for..but going all the time, here and there all while trying to work and run multiple businesses, made them cranky, grades started slipping, and I found the only time we got in a real conversation was for the 5 minutes in the car ride to the next thing we were doing. It was too fast paced and the lack of connection was not how I envisioned bringing up my kids. So we slowed down. I started saying no. No to work commitments, no to my kid's extracurricular activities, no to social gatherings.. And I do not regret one bit.
Because guess what I found out?
When you over-commitment yourself, you always let someone down. You're going to have someone mad at you anyway! So now, not only did you miss out on important family time/money/memories, you disappointed someone along the way. You won't win either way! The person asking for your time or for a favor, would have probably appreciated you just saying "no" in the first place.
For me, the hard part was finding the words to say no. It sounds silly now, but I seriously did not know how to be direct without being wishy-washy. The other person would be confused, looking at me like "Katie, are you in or out..make a decision for the love of God!" Or, to the other end of the spectrum, I would be too harsh in my response. So here's what I've learned over my years as trying to recover from being a "yes" girl. I say something like this, "I would love to help you out with that project/job/sport/party/client/activity, but I can't this time. Hopefully next time!" And then I stop talking. That's it! The key is to stop talking. You don't need to defend yourself, you don't need to give a million excuses. Just.stop.talking. If the person asking is persistent and keeps badgering you, don't go there with them. That's their baggage, it's not yours. Just smile and say something like "well next time, if I'm available (or my kid, if it's their thing), it will be great and we will be all yours!"
So here is my challenge to you- next time someone asks you a favor or to take on more responsibilities at work or as a volunteer, tell the person you need some time to think about your answer. Then, ask yourself the questions I mentioned in this article. If you feel good about saying no, do it! You can use the lines I gave you if you're having trouble finding the verbiage. There will be plenty more opportunities to say yes down the road. You got this!