In my last post I discussed how there are always going to be times when saying “no” isn’t an option. But, the truth is that those times are rare. Most of the time it’s not clear whether we should say “yes” or “no”. So, we have to stop and take a few moments and do a few things so that we can have the clarity of mind to determine whether say “yes” or saying “no” is really the best thing to do.
Before you say yes:
- Take a moment to breathe. Never answer yes on the spot. Always take a moment to breathe by saying something like “Let me check my calendar and get back to you.” You can even blame it on your spouse “let me check with my husband/wife/partner and get back to you.” Or, you can just be straight up and say “You know what I don’t know what my life looks like that far out and with a chronic illness it’s really hard to plan. Let me think about this and get back to you.”
- Remember opportunity costs – When you say “yes” to one thing you are automatically saying “no” to something else. You choose what is most important to you by your yeses.
- Realize that you have to take care of yourself first – We hear it so often this reminder that if we don’t take care of ourselves we can’t take of others, but we need the reminder because we forget it. I know I do. We don’t stop to think about the fact that we are emptying our cup with every act of giving but somehow we have to refill it or there will be nothing left to give. Taking care of ourselves (self-care) is how we refill our cup.
- Examine your current commitments – When we say yes to too many things we only able to halfway do them all. Think about how much time this new commitment will take and really consider whether or not there is enough time in your busy day to add this new task. If adding it means that other things you’ve already committed to do will only get half done then it’s probably best to let someone else do it.
- Know your values – You have to know what’s important in your life in order to know what it’s important to say “yes” to. If someone is asking you to do something that doesn’t fit into those core values then say “no”. Your time and energy are precious, hoard them for things that are important.
- Know your value – As I wrote the above I realized this is true as well. Often we don’t know our own value. We act like we think we are worthless. We agree to do everything for everyone for nothing. Why? Because it makes us feel good that someone finds us valuable. The truth is that you are valuable but you don’t need to say “yes” to prove it. When you say “no” you are telling people that you know your value.
We’ve got to stop thinking that it’s selfish to look at our own needs before we say yes to others. It’s not selfish, it’s self-less. If we take care of ourselves we have more to give to others and we can say yes more often to more important things. But, if we say yes to every little thing along the way then there’s no room left for the big things and certainly no room for self-care.