As a mother it seems like sometimes there’s just way much to do and too little time. Every time I feel that way, I know that it is not true. Feeling overwhelmed or trapped is usually a trap we put on ourselves. When I am focused on what I am committed to do, I can always align myself to that commitment and find ways to get things done.
One of the ways to handle what I want to do, is to manage what I don’t want to do. This is especially difficult when dealing with my children. I tend to take on what my husband or sister wives want, and especially want to be there for my children when they ask for things.
Finding how to say no has saved me a lot of stress and helped me to focus on those things I want to focus on. I have too often taken on things that I can’t do or that conflict with the things that are really important to me.
Learning to say no to my own mother when she calls to chat in the middle of the day, or my husband when he asks me to take on a project is not always easy for me. Even sometimes it is learning to say no to myself; to the ideas I have.
The following ideas are tips I have found to say no to myself and remain focused on what’s most important. First of all I have learned I can say no without uttering the word. By keeping focused on these guidelines my life has been much easier.
First, when a request is made of me, I have learned not to respond immediately. If I am asked to do something that is not part of my primary focus I let the person know I will get back to them. I then take some time to assess the pros and cons of saying yes. This is typically from reflecting upon my goals and reviewing how saying yes will impact them. Sometimes even the simple requests may put me behind schedule. This perspective allows me to ask the question, “Is it worth it?” I always have a right to say no, and when I realize that, I make a choice to say no, especially with my children whom I tend to want to please too much.
This leads me to the second thing I have learned; finding creative solutions. Sometimes I say yes because I just want to be nice. Saying no does not mean that I am not a nice person; it simply means that I have priorities and boundaries. If something is going to affect my commitments or schedules, I offer solutions.
For example, my son will ask if I will take him to his friends. I will let him know I want to, but have other commitments and see if his sister is driving to work and can drop him off. Then perhaps I can pick him up later. No doesn’t necessarily mean never.
Finally, I have learned when I do say no, I keep it simple and don’t explain in detail or apologize. When I let them know that it doesn’t work for me, I am empowered and they respect me for it. I am kind in my response. I try to put myself in someone’s shoes and find the words that will be understood from that person’s point of view. If it is someone like Joe who is more direct, I am brief and direct; if its one of my daughters who is more emotional then I use a more compassionate tone.
I have found long explanations and apologies tend to backfire, causing the other person, especially my younger kids to push harder and me to question my decision. Try to not complicate the situation, just kindly say no with a brief explanation (one sentence) or creative solution attached.
I am still learning and it doesn’t always come easy. But learning to manage my time and my self respect, while relaying the love and commitment I have to the relationships in my life is important to me. If you can resist the hasty yes and keep track of the benefits, you will soon be delivering a powerful no with ease!