I have written the following article with several young women in mind. These women spend their days (and presumably nights) doing a ton of varying projects of which they have little interest in. These include paid work, internships, leadership roles, many volunteering hours and full-time study. They’re not happy with their current load, but haven’t had the strength to say “no”. Too many projects leaves less time to realise their dreams- they’re suffering burn out and feel overstretched.
Who are you? How many roles do you play out every day? You may be a student, a lover, an employee, a parent, a sister, a volunteer. Each of these roles demand certain levels of your emotional, physical and mental time.
Taking care of yourself – and taking time out for yourself- IS a radical act.
Saying “No thankyou” to projects you’re not 100 percent in to means you’re free up for saying a big fat YES to things that inspire you. It means you can focus on the direction you want your life to head and are freer to work on projects that are important to you. It’s saying no to overworking, to spreading yourself too thin and NO to burn out.
Growing up we learned to obey teachers and adults and to do what they asked of us without questioning the necessity or validity of it. What is in it for us? Is it worth out time? Our energy? Furthermore, as women we’re taught by society that to be non-compliant is deviant. We get called a bitch for saying no to men’s advances, sexual assault is all too common from men taking the answer as “no” for “convince me”. Compliant to ‘rules’ around sex- don’t be a slut, but don’t be too frigid, to always put others needs before our own (make me a sandwich?) and eventually to be the caring, self-less (without sense of self?) mother.
But we need to acknowledge our own limits and put boundaries in place. Everyone does.
Necklace by Modern Girl Blitz
When I hit my teenage years I started becoming more sociable. One thing my dad always reinforced was “you don’t have to say yes to everything”. This saying has stuck with me, I’m so grateful (now) for his resounding voice in my head every time I’m invited to participate in something I’m not 100% sure about.
For example, I don’t usually make any plans or arrangements for Sunday. This is because I know I will want to spend time alone recovering from the week. I am all for confirming plans on the day, and cancelling if I am not up to it. I’m not worried about friends thinking of me as flaky. It’s my time and energy and if I’m not feeling too well or I’m exhausted I will only be crappy company. My friends know I need rest and it’s not a reflection on how I feel about them, just as I respect their feelings when they need time alone.
Learning the differences between passive, assertive and aggressive communication is key. Be straightforward, clear and honest-you’re not rejecting the person, you’re rejecting the request!
Saying No- You can do it!
- Acknowledge the person’s feelings and the request
- Always be respectful.
- You can always say you will get back to them later.
- Saying no does not mean you’re being selfish
- Others needs are not more important than your own needs.
Need some examples to practice with?
“I would love to do that, but I just don’t have the time in my schedule.”
“Sounds like a great project but I’ve committed myself to other projects at the moment”
“I may be able to help out at a later stage, I’ll get back to you”
“It’s not workable for me at the moment with everything that’s going on, but I wish you the best of luck!”
“Sorry I’m not going to make it today, I need some time to myself”
Don’t be afraid of saying no. Is saying no a struggle for you? How do you cope?