Saturday, August 10, 2013

I said No (and I Meant It)

You probably know at least one person who has this problem saying no, either at work or at home (or with their unruly kids). Erm look in the mirror - is that the person you were thinking of?

It is for me. Here's my problem: my brain wants to be busy (so yeah to all requests!) but my mental energy, my personality, needs a break every day. I can't go go go. I can't. I go to conferences for work and it's just people people people back to back insane and there's Liz...taking a break in her room.

If my calendar has one "extra" item (extra meaning not the classes I teach or office hours), I'm OK. Two extras...mmm three...errrr. Any higher and I go home and feel as if I have nothing left to give anyone. And this feeling of anxiety sits by my lungs and I just want to sit somewhere quiet by myself.

So that's the first problem. Here's the second: I'm apparently competent when I do say yes. People keep asking me to do stuff. Even when I'm not on contract (such as during the summer) I get asked to do stuff. 

And that leads to the third problem - I tend to say yes to everything people ask me to do (because I feel guilty if I don't). After Sage was born, I started recognizing how my behaviors influenced my stress and that influenced my home life, my stress, and my boys. Not cool.

If this is you too, how can we avoid the Over Yes-ing (when possible)? First, keep your calendar(s) up to date. I have my work Outlook, my Gmail (personal), and my paper schedule book (I love laper for some reason) all synced and updated. That way if anyone asks if I can do X, I can check what else I've got going on that day. If there's a conflict or it would send you over the edge energy-wise, suggest moving the date to a day you have clear (or clear-er). If that's not possible, think about the necessity of this event. You may be thinking, "Couldn't that take some time?" And you'd be right, so saying, "Let me get back to you by 3 pm by email" would give you that time to think about your role in this activity. Are you necessary? If not, would it be a work or career foible to say no? Is this an annual thing, could you offer to do the next one but just not this one? Could someone else do it (and stop thinking "but I'd do it better" - we're talking about decreasing your over-scheduling here). 

If the answers of the Magic 8Ball indicate that you must go, see if you can move around anything else that's scheduled. Tell your spouse that any expectations of you for that day are going to get sacked because you may be left with nothing energy-wise. Better yet, discuss with them your conundrum before agreeing to it (if possible). I am usually the one who picks up the boys after daycare - if I know my day is full, I will warn Mike and ask him what he wants fast-food wise for dinner.


  1. Hi Liz,

    I have never had a problem saying 'no'; however, I recently worked with someone who did. I suggested the following affirmation to her: "I celebrate setting healthy boundaries. I express my self-love through saying NO when doing so feels right. I practice balance in setting boundaries and helping others. I am here to be of service, to love myself and share that love with others."

    Rachel recently posted What Chains Are Holding You Back?