Challenge set by Ceri Wheeldon
“You can be a good person with a kind heart and still say no.” Lori Deschene
It is so easy to get overwhelmed and spread ourselves too thin.
How often do you agree to do something through obligation and later regret the decision?
As women we are natural caretakers and it can be so easy to put ourselves at the back of the queue when it comes to investing ourselves. We hate to disappoint and it can be so easy to step in to help others when asked in spite of the pressure it might place ourselves under. If you are constantly behaving as a people pleaser it can be easy to let your boundaries get blurred and allow yourself to be taken advantage of.
An example based on my personal experience
I found myself in a situation when I was constantly being asked by a friend to step in and help take care of her husband when he was diagnosed with dementia. I gave up a considerable amount of my time and found myself being asked more and more. As his health deteriorated I was finding the situation harder to manage- especially as I was being more frequently and other friends not at all. In fact I was expected to give up a day of work while this friend socialised with her friends who didn’t work at all. Every time I tried to say that I couldn’t do it I was made to feel so guilty and so relented. This particular friend could easily afford to pay for care – but chose not to. In fact it got to the point when the only time I saw her was when my help was needed. The crunch came when I was asked to take a week off work and move into her house while she went abroad on holiday with another friend. I had to decline . It was too much responsibility and I genuinely didn’t feel equipped to do this. Furthermore , running my own business I couldn’t afford to take a week off, and in fact had not had a holiday myself for more than a year!! My saying I couldn’t do this resulted in quite a temper tantrum from her! I was accused of being selfish, putting her on the bottom of my list and she said that if I couldn’t support her I couldn’t be her friend. All the support I had given up that point counted for nothing!
I have to admit to my part in this- I should have been firmer and said on previous occasions when asked to help – and given in to the guilt trip, factoring my own needs into the equation. I should have said no sooner and more frequently.
Sadly we are no longer friends- although it seems those who provided no help have been able to maintain friendships. Had I set better boundaries and said no sooner we might still be friends today.
Learning to say no
What have you said yes to in the past few weeks that you wish you had said no to? Make a list? Why didn’t you say ‘no’? How did you feel when saying yes- pressured, resentful, overwhelmed, happy to help? Think about how you can and will say no when confronted with a similar situation. Write down what , on reflection you wish you had said instead of saying yes. Place a couple of post it notes reminding yourself that it’s OK to say no in strategic places around the house!!
Little things like this can make such a difference to your stress levels.
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Ceri and Julia x