Why You Should Start Saying "No"
Lori Harder recently shared this eye-opening story that really resonated with me:
The Lady with the Last Name Starting with A.
This story is about a woman who always got asked by her kids school to help out. Each week there was something new they needed her to do, and each week she said “yes”. She felt the school needed her, and that things wouldn’t happen or she would disappoint people by saying “no”. Essentially, she was a people pleaser through and through. One day she was so exhausted and burnt out that from taking on all these extra tasks from the school that she said “I am so sorry, but I just can’t do it”, and the lady from the school said “oh that’s not a problem, you’re just the first person on our list of parents to call”.
Sometimes you need to realize you’re just the lady with the last name that starts with A.
The world will not fall apart is you say “no”. You need to respect your own time and needs instead of always putting everyone else first.
I am a people pleaser all the way to my core. I grew up not understanding how to say “no” when someone asked me to do something. I always went above and beyond to help others and step up to the plate. Subconsciously I liked always being asked because it made me feel important, I knew someone needed me, and that made me feel worthy. Without knowing it at the time, I was using these external experiences to feed my self-worth and ego, when what I really needed was to be using that time to learn how to love myself and simply be with myself.
As I began to struggle more with my mental health, everyone close to me told me that I needed to slow down and take time to feel things. I was using the overload of tasks on top of my already hectic school and work life to ensure I had no free time. I was so tired that when I finally had some time to myself I would just fall asleep. Without any awareness, I had created a fool-proof plan to never have to feel anything, because I was simply to busy. Needless to say, this eventually caught up with me.
Imagine a bookshelf, every time I had an uncomfortable feeling or thought, it would become another closed book that I would place on this shelf buried deep down within me. Overtime the bookshelf got fuller and fuller until one day it became too heavy and everything came crashing down.
This overwhelming crash sent me into a spiral of depression. I couldn’t say “no”, so my body did it for me. I felt paralyzed in my bed, and I couldn’t move for days.
You can only push yourself so far before your body will begin to shut down, and I learned this the hard way. I was blessed to be surrounded by an incredible support system who helped me begin to heal, and my journey began with boundaries.
I knew I couldn’t function at that pace if I wanted to stay healthy, both mentally and physically. I had to take time to feel things, to work through things even if they were hard or uncomfortable. So I began to take things off my plate, scale back and say “no”. This wasn’t an easy thing for me, I fought against it most of the time. It took years of SLOW progress to find a healthy balance, but now I love slowing down and taking time for me. I get to do things simply because I enjoy them, even if they have no extremely purposeful reason. My belief was that everything I did needed to be for a really valid reason, like making money or building connections to help my future, etc. The problem was that I never viewed myself or self-care as purposeful.
NOW, I value self-care above everything else, because I understand that I can give more to others when I give to myself first. In other words, once my cup is full and overflowing, then I have more to share and pour into other people’s cups. If I’m empty, I have nothing to give.
Take care of yourself first, and only do things if they feel good for you!