Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Power of NO

I remember reading a case history once of a person who was in psychological counseling. One line stood out to me. "Exhausted. Has trouble saying 'NO' and therefore takes on too much, then burns out."

I know that merry-go-round; I live it, at some times more than others. I take on more than is healthy for me and then I struggle beneath the weight of the responsibility of more than I can handle. Eventually something has to give, and I feel like a failure, when what has really happened is that I took on too much to begin with. 

And you know, I took on that much probably because I was afraid of being rejected if I said, "No, I don't have enough time left to do that." 

I have no problem with saying, "No, that's our family time; I don't schedule things then. Maybe we could do that another time." But if it's "just me" - that is, if the only reason I want to opt out of some event is because I need to look after myself, well, sometimes I don't think that's enough ... probably because there's a part of me that doesn't believe that I AM enough. 

That's an area I need to work on. It's like weeding out my closet: what fits, what doesn't, what's worn out, what needs replacing and what doesn't, and do I really need that? So what I've been doing the last little while is reviewing all the irons I have in the fire (so to speak) to see which ones I can remove - or set aside for the time being - to give myself a little time for me.  I'm asking myself questions which (for me, because I'm so afraid that people won't like me) are difficult:
  • Is this activity producing the desired effect I intended?
  • Does it need more attention or less? is it a good use of my time?
  • What am I hoping to accomplish with this? 
  • Does this organization's values (or do the values of its clientele) jive with mine?
  • Can I set this venture aside for a while without feeling like I'm losing something?
  • What do I want to be spending more time doing? Am I going in that direction or away from it?
The answers to these questions will tell me what I can let lapse ... and what to keep pursuing. Already I've stopped one association with an organization with whose practices I have not made peace; that felt like a great weight off my mind. And today, I cancelled my membership with another e-company that was wasting a lot of my online time; the sense of relief was palpable. 

And I'm refocusing my attention on the things in my life that I can do. It's all part of setting boundaries, practicing self-care, and having the energy left over to invest into the message of being free from the grave-clothes of fear and shame. It's a never-ending quest.

And a big part of that is knowing when it's time to say NO.

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