With your heavy workload, social and family obligations and dwindling “self” time, you’re hard-pressed to take on additional responsibilities. Yet, when your neighbors ask you to water their plants, a friend asks you to go shopping or a family members ask you to host a big 4th of July party, you find it hard to say no.
Maybe you don’t want to let someone you care about down or upset anyone. Perhaps you feel that you’re the only one who can do the tasks justice. But by accepting any of these requests when you’re already tapped out on time and energy, you’re actually cheating yourself and them.
Spread too thin
Why? Because by pushing yourself beyond your limits, you’re weakening yourself both physically and mentally. This makes you more susceptible to illness, being irritable and even depression. Plus, you do them a disservice when your system is already overloaded. Your laughter will be forced, your limitations will be evident and the things you’re attempting will not be up to par. The fact is, you shouldn’t feel compelled to do everything everyone asks you to do. You must learn to draw the line and just say no. Try it now. It’s merely a simple, two-letter word that states your position.
Just say the word
Of course, when you need to use the word “no” on friends and loved ones, you may want to dress it up a little so as not to offend. This is where the talent of gracefully declining becomes valuable. Before turning them down, always respond to a request that you’re not willing to do by first acknowledging that the requester thinks highly enough of you to consider you up to the task.
For example, your friend asks you to babysit their child because they have an important meeting to attend. You can say, “I’m so flattered that you thought of me – you know how much I adore Sammy – but I’ve got a work deadline and will need quiet, uninterrupted time to get my assignment done. However, I know that Sonia may be available.” See how that worked? You acknowledged, declined and offered alternate help in one simple response.
A partial decline
As for family requests of a larger nature, like the abovementioned family party, you probably can’t get away without any involvement, but you can delegate. So you could say, “This celebration is really important to me and I want to be a part of it. So maybe I can organize the food or host it at my house and you can organize getting the word out, maybe your mom can deal with the caterers or hosting it, and the teenagers can decorate…” and so on. This way, you are involved, but only for as much as you can reasonably do. Besides, it wouldn’t be a true family affair if the whole family wasn’t collaborating in the effort.
Now think about this: What happens when you politely decline these not-so-generous offers? You breathe a huge sigh of relief that you aren’t burdened with a task that you didn’t have the time or desire to do – plus, you feel no guilt, because you offered alternate assistance. When you exhale, the burdened feeling is lifted off your shoulders, you breathe easier and you smile at yourself at having dodged the bullet of an unwanted chore.
Now you can say “yes” as you devote that much-needed time to yourself – take a bubble bath, read a book, give yourself a pedicure. You’ve earned it!
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