It just happened. There was no additional, “sorry” or a list of reasons why I couldn’t or wouldn’t do what the person had asked. I simply replied with a word that up until now has been difficult for me to say without overanalyzing how it would make the other person feel. But my response just came out quick and clear: no.
There was no guilt. No second thoughts about sending a Facebook message with a list of other items I’m pushing around on my plate. Because the truth is, it doesn’t matter if I have ten to-dos or nothing to do at all. I don’t owe anyone an explanation. I’m a grown ass woman, and I’m totally allowed to tell people, “no.”
This decision didn’t come lightly. I really love people. And helping them. And doing whatever I can to make them feel special. But the people who end up holding the wrong end of the knife when I’ve spread myself too thin are my family.
So, if you struggle with telling people “no” here are a few filters that helped me get started.
Will I learn something new?
I don’t turn down situations that make me uncomfortable. It’s how we learn and grow. My biggest areas of growth right now are my physical and spiritual body. But there are specific challenges I’m looking for: Crossfit, bible study and…yup, that’s kind of it for me. If there’s a competition or a group of Bible bangers congregating to ask tough questions, count me in! I’m not interested in night creams or leggings so please don’t ask me to those types of parties.
Will my people be there?
With three small kids and a hobby farm, the most I get out is to Giant Eagle, the library or a basketball game at the rec center. When I do get a free night out, I want to be with my friends. And at the age of almost 40 I’m not interested in making new ones. I want to see my ride or die, let’s do a tequila shot on a Tuesday friends who love me just the way I am. If there’s an opportunity to connect with my group of hot mess mamas, then I’m in.
Will it help my people?
I am a mom above anything else. Contrary to what others might see on the outside, I am terrified that I’m messing up my kids. When there are opportunities to be a room mom or volunteer for a class field trip, I am in. Seeing whom my kids interact with and how their teachers shape them when I’m not around is critical to how I parent at home.
Will it bring me joy?
This one trumps all of the above. It really does. Life is so short. I think sometimes as adults we get thrown into responsibilities, marriages, parenting and the joy just gets sucked right out of us. But finding what brings joy is what keeps me alive. And by “me” I mean me. Sure I love my kids, but they are not the roots of my joy. I have to break the cycle of Groundhog Day up at seven, pack lunches, water chickens, pick-up from school, homework, activities, bedtime—repeat! So for me, it’s taking time to get in that joy. Right now it’s during naptime, after bedtime or setting my alarm to wake up before the sun, but I schedule time to write and take pictures because these activities are my lifeline to joy.
Time really is a four-letter word. It’s short, it’s sacred…it’s easily stolen by others. So, do yourself a favor and start saying, “no.” And stop feeling bad about it.