The word is "No". Say no to requests of your time and energy more often. It’s as simple and as difficult as that. Many people find this word extremely difficult to use when it’s needed most. We over commit to things we really don’t have the time to do. This leads to stress, worry and resentment. Let’s look at the reasons you might over commit, the benefits of saying no, and how to say no assertively.
Top reasons why you might take on too much:
You want to be nice
You don’t want to disappoint others or hurt their feelings. But the problem with being nice and accommodating all the time is that you end up putting everyone else’s needs above your own. If this is you, you really have to stop doing that. YOUR NEEDS ARE IMPORTANT!
You feel like you SHOULD be able to do it all
While it may appear that other people have it all together and are highly capable, chances are they have similar struggles with time. Don’t compare yourself to others (easier said than done, I know). Banish the word ‘Should’ from your vocabulary. That word causes nothing but guilt when you don’t get around to doing all the shoulds you set for yourself.
You over commit because you expect to have more time in the future than you have in the present. This is such a common thought! Especially if you are an optimistic person. But of course, when the future arrives, you are overwhelmed and unable to do everything you promised.
The benefits of saying ‘No’ more often:
That moment of discomfort as you turn down a request is SO much more tolerable than the ongoing resentment you feel when you over commit.
Your time is valuable! Every time you say no to a request, you are saying yes to something else. Yes to more time with family, Yes to more time to read a book, Yes to more time to exercise. So, what DO you love doing? Spend more time doing THAT!
When you free up your time you are likely to be less stressed. Being calmer enables you to enjoy your children more and have tolerance for things that might otherwise trigger you. As a calmer parent you will see your children’s behaviour differently and be able to cope better with the everyday challenges that parenting brings.
How to say ‘No’ in an assertive way that preserves relationships:
If you know for sure that your answer is no, you can say:
“My plate is so full right now, it would be quite stressful for me to take anything else on”.
If you want to keep your options open because you might be interested later, you can say:
“That sounds really interesting but I do have a lot on at the moment and can’t commit at this stage. If you still need help in a month please ask me again.”
If you feel really stuck when put on the spot and don’t know how to respond, give yourself some time:
“I need a little time to think about this. I can give you an answer tomorrow after I check my schedule.”
If you feel that you are being manipulated to do something (“You did such a great job coordinating the school book fundraiser last year. It will be a disaster without you!”) you can try this:
“This might be disappointing to hear but I’m unable to be involved this year. I have other commitments that I will be focusing on. Is there a way to get some of the other parents more involved?"
All the best in taking action in the new year that leads to a less committed, more relaxed you!