Just Say No

Compassionate people ask for what they need. They say "no" when they need to, and when they say "yes," they mean it. They're compassionate because their boundaries keep them out of resentment.    -Brene Brown

I felt depleted. It was a 6-day work week, chores were screaming around me, and somehow our social calendar had mysteriously scheduled something for us every night. I was tired and on edge; if one more person asked me to do something, I was going to burst. I had become resentful of my commitments even though I agreed to them all.

This prompted me to get out my journal. I made a list of the areas in my life that are life-giving and life-sucking. I thought hard about the parts of my life that bring me joy and the areas that drain me. Looking at it on paper, I realized that I hadn't listened to my body or emotional needs at all. Because of that, even the activities and people I enjoy felt like demands and expectations; I was burned out. Instead of being joyful with the before me, I was angry and annoyed.

We think saying “yes”  to everything will make people like us more (especially for the people-pleasers of the world--yours truly). We think it will keep others from being disappointed in us. So, our calendars fill with the social events, more relationships, tasks, things to do, commitments--what ends up happening? Instead of being really great friends, employees, and spouses, we do it all half-assed because we're exhausted.

I hate to break it to you, but we can't do it all (go ahead, repeat it to yourself).

Saying “yes” to everything will keep our lives unfocused and without boundaries. When we don't create healthy boundaries, we give people and commitments the power to stomp all over our schedules. We end up resenting them--not enjoying them.

Before we know what to say no to--we must know what we need. Knowing what we need requires more listening and less ignoring. More listening to our bodies and what it asks of us--less pushing through and ignoring those requests.

This is difficult considering I'm a queen of productivity and lists. There's always something else to do and not doing it unsettles me on the inside. There are heart issues there that I'm still unpacking and sorting through. But progress is made on a day like today, when my body screams at me to rest and I've done just that:

It's 3 p.m., and I just brushed my teeth. I've taken turns napping on the couch and bed, checking PBS hourly, then walking to the kitchen to find food to eat. I've repeated this cycle all day. As countercultural to my life as this day is, it's exactly what I needed. Somehow, today has been more "productive" and nurturing to my heart and soul than any task could be.

Need to rest? Rest.

Need to be alone? Be alone.

Need to be around people? Call up a friend.

Need to just lay on the couch and watch PBS all day in your PJs? Do it.

If we're going to live mindful and intentional lives, we must learn what's vital to our well-being, protect our time for those things, and say no to anything else.