It’s really hard to say no.
But sometimes it’s the kindest thing you can do. For others, and for yourself.
When you have big goals and you’re working toward building an extraordinary life, you can’t say yes to everything without burning yourself out.
I still struggle with this one, I admit. If someone asks me for help, I want to say yes–even if, realistically, I just don’t have time or can’t help them without derailing myself.
Why is it kinder to say no? Here’s an example.
I once ruined a friendship because I always felt the need to say yes to everything.
A friend was getting married on the same day I was moving in with my boyfriend at the time. Our move date was set before my friend’s wedding, and I couldn’t change it. But I said yes to attending her wedding, because how could I not? She was a good friend.
The day of our move and her wedding came. I was exhausted. My boyfriend was exhausted. We couldn’t find our fancy clothes, or most of our other belongings, for that matter–they were packed away like everything else. Where was the ironing board, or the iron? Who knew?
The last thing we felt like was dressing up and attending a wedding. We were bruised, battered, and sleep-deprived. Finally, my boyfriend suggested a compromise. Why didn’t we go to the ceremony? We could pull ourselves together as much as possible, go to the ceremony, see my friend get married, and then come home and collapse. We’d miss the reception, but at least we’d be there to see her say “I do”.
I still felt guilty about it, but agreed. We managed to find some presentable clothing, and stood in the back of the group. It was a beautiful ceremony. I tried to catch my friend’s eye afterward, so she’d know I was there, but I wasn’t sure that she’d seen me. When we got home, I forced myself to at least set up my computer so I could send her an email of apology. I told her how beautiful her wedding was, and how happy I was for her. Then I collapsed into bed, hoping she’d forgive me.
Well, she didn’t. She was furious with me for missing her reception, and–as any bride knows–someone who sends in an RSVP to a wedding and then doesn’t show up is a huge PITA, and an expensive one, because the happy couple has already paid for your meal. In her email, she also called me on the fact that I’d blown off other invitations–to parties, etc.–and she was tired of it. And that’s when I realized–I had a problem with saying no.
Of course I couldn’t move my entire household and attend a wedding on the same day! What was I thinking? Something had to give, but because I felt pressured to say yes to everything–the move date, the wedding, my boyfriend who didn’t have the energy to go to the reception–I ended up destroying a friendship. It would have been kinder to explain to my friend in advance that I wouldn’t be able to make it, and somehow find a way to compensate for my absence (perhaps with a really nice gift). By trying to make everyone happy, I made no one happy, least of all myself.
Do you have a problem with saying no? Have you managed to learn how to set limits? If so, please tell me how you do it. Lord knows I need all the help I can get.