Stress Management (Part 2) "I Just Can't Say No!"
If you are reading this, then chances are you are like many of my friends and clients, and often me too, who live with an underlying level of stress and anxiety in our lives.We are always running from one thing to the next, brain whizzing, our internal motors ramped up, desperately trying to figure out how to cram just one more thing into our day, schedule, week or hour! There's so many demands upon us, so many things on our to do list, that life often seems impossible!!
Most people want to be helpful, kind, capable, people who contribute not only to their own lives, but be connected, and giving to those around them. Our motivations are well intentioned, most of the time its for all the good, well meaning and right reasons. Of course we want to help our friend, spend time with our mother, join in with that social event, get that project finished, help out our work colleague, go the the gym, be at all our children school events etc etc!!
I hear in my coaching practise every week," I am so maxed out, Sarah, I just don't have the time to... "You fill in the gap here. I empathise completely with this issue. It's one that has plagued me, as I have sought to please all the people and agendas around my own life.
For years I did not even realise that the word NO was even an option!!
If we don't know how to say no to things:
We will be overloaded and stressed out. Sound familiar?
Our Yes is disempowered. It doesn't mean to much at worst, and it is watered down by lack of energy, focus and commitment at best, with duty and resentment following along behind it.
We will live running on the agendas and needs of others.
We will live lives that react and respond to everything, rather than lives that make wise and considered decisions, not just for us but for others around us too.
Our depletion will end up spilling over to those who are close to us in the forms of words and behaviour that do not reflect who we really are, they are just driven out of stress and exhaustion.
Many of us will suffer physically in our bodies eventually as stress takes its toll.
Been there, done that go the t-shirt. In fact got all the t-shirts. Do you relate?
We all have a certain amount of time, energy, resource that is allocated to us.How we spend that is actually within our jurisdiction. It is within our power to manage.We are making choices, and have to make choices how we spend it. If if we are not intentional in our choices, then by default other peoples agendas and needs will make our choices for us. And we will end up grumpy and resentful as well as exhausted. Sound familiar? Or is it just me?
So what can we do?
Pull back a little and write down whats really important to you in your life. What and who do you want to invest your time, energy, resources into the most?What do you value?
Then think about who or what drains the most out of you and why? Can you place a boundary around that thing or person?For example it might be work projects that spill over into lots of extra hours outside of your contract, a boss who is constantly calling on your personal mobile, a relative who calls far too often and who you cannot get off the phone for e.g..
Think of positive and respectful ways to say No.Someone once said "No is a complete sentence."But most of us don't like to be that abrupt or rude! If you want to say no to something, can you offer an alternative that works well for both parties?Can you offer another date or time?
How about reviewing your scheduleand seeing where you can prioritise time with those you love, study,the exercise you've been meaning to do. Every new habit takes time, so allow for that.
Practise certain phrases until they feel natural."I'm so sorry that's not going to work for me.. but how about....( offer alternative suggestion)....can I look at what will work and get back to you in..? (then give a time frame.) This gives you time to check your diary, think it through, work through the panic that you've said a very gentle no! If you are really feeling brave and don't want to do something ,just simply say you are not able to do it.
These are just a couple of tips. I know our lives are complex and individual, and working out something that works for you may take time and some assistance. But I want you to feel that its ok, in fact its more thanok to say no. Its essential for a healthy life. It releases your best Yes! It allows you to invest where you need to and want to, it allows you to stay intentional and focussed. Its not mean or selfish, (although of course taken to extremes it could be, but if you are reading this, I'm guessing that's not your issue). It's important, freeing and powerful and allows you to give yourself fully to those things and people that you really value and are responsible for. So I give you the gift of No today!
Make your life great. You only have one!