When my first born went off to kindergarten, I said yes to everything that was asked of me: every volunteering opportunity, every playdate for my younger kids who were still home with me, every mother or friend who needed help.
I never hesitated and, before I knew it, my days were filled with doing things I didn't want to be doing.
Pleasing people became my jam. I somehow thought since I didn't have three toddlers running around the house because one was in school all day, I had to prove I was doing something with the tiny sliver of free time I had. The guilt from saying no to anything was too much to bear, so I never uttered the words.
If I came close and wanted to give something a hard pass, I would stop and give myself a verbal takedown. You can handle this, please. You can squeeze it in. You can do it after the kids are in bed or stay up all night if you need to. You can find a way— just don't say no!
Somehow, I got off on spreading myself so thin and walking around being so incredibly stressed all the while saying, "Hey, look at me! I can do it all. I feel like I might blow at any moment, but look at these damn cookies."
What I was trying to do was fill a void and price myself. What I was left with was self-induced panic attacks and feeling like I was using all my strength just to keep my head above water.
When you stop saying yes to shit you hate, you are saying yes to people and opportunities that fill you up in other, more fulfilling ways.
It took me some time (years to be exact) to realize I was doing myself and my family a huge disservice. Learning to say no has been a huge freedom. I stopped saying yes to shit I hated just because I felt I should, and only said yes to those things that I really wanted to be a part of or didn't leave me feeling like a dirty dish rag clinging to the corner of the kitchen sink.
I'm not talking about being selfish here. We all have to step in during times we don't really want to because we should or know it's the right thing to do. But many times we say yes to things we absolutely don't want to do, or don't have to do, solely because we feel we should.
Maybe we say yes to something because we did it last year. Maybe we say yes because we actually do have the time, and even if it's tight, we want to see if we can pull it off. Maybe it's guilt. Or maybe it's an addiction we can't stay away from because it has become a way of life for us. Coming to someone's rescue or lending a hand makes us feel worthy, even if it causes us stress and interferes with our family or social life.
Who really knows why we do it? I just know many of us do.
Saying no is incredibly difficult, but once you practice it, it becomes a way of life and you are able to measure your self-worth in other ways. When you stop saying yes to shit you hate, you are saying yes to people and opportunities that fill you up in other, more fulfilling ways. Give yourself the time and chance.