The Power of Saying No

I’ve approached this topic over the years in many different ways. From doing less, to exploring hygge, and of course the endless exploration of self-care. But today I want to be blunt because I finally feel blunt. For so long I’ve tried to find ways to clear up my schedule, say no, and give myself space to breathe.

And I always end up failing in one way or another.

I say no and then feel guilty. I make time for myself but then fill it with someone else’s needs. Some of you definitely identify with this, and then I know there are others who have a hard time imagining not being able to say no. Whoever you are, just know that time for yourself AND deciding how you spend your time are equally important. I struggled with saying no because I didn’t understand this difference.

For me, finding time for myself was the easier of the two to pick up. Thanks to the self-care movement, it has become easier for me to turn down plans and leave nights open to enjoy my own company. I have not yet perfected it, but I feel like every couple of months I get better– I clear out more time, I spend it differently– and every time I feel that growth spurt I am happier.

The harder one for me has been being honest (with myself and others) about how I want to spend my time. I’ve spent a good chunk of my adult life agreeing to events or parties because I didn’t want to hurt someone’s feelings… not because I actually wanted to go. Now… I’m not saying you should become totally selfish, obviously there are times and events where I want to be supportive. Being supportive and saying yes to avoid guilt are different.

(So many things are closely linked but different! So much of my personal development has come from untangling feelings and thoughts that run parallel. It’s crazy.)

It’s a little painful for me to admit that I’d rather be at home, writing or just talking with my boyfriend, instead of at a happy hour at a crowded bar I hate. I am an extrovert so to not be extroverted feels uncomfortable and strange and like I am not only betraying myself but those who have become accustomed to my endless support and energy. I am still here for you friends, I just can’t always be all things to all people! 🙂

I am getting better.

And I am finding that there is great power in saying no. I feel like myself more often and I feel protected by myself. It’s hard to explain but spending my time exactly how I want to spend my time is amazing. It can sound lame, but for someone who has struggled with this for 31 years, it feels absolutely amazing. And I feel so lucky to have unlocked so many doors.

I have a lot more to unlock and the work is never done. My calendar is still busy every week (like I said, extrovert) and I struggle to fit it all in… but I at least finally understand what it means to truly take a break, and to truly say no those around me. It’s like physical therapy, I know which muscles to use now… but I still got strengthen them.

I am curious if there are others like me. Is it hard for you to say no? Or is it easy? What tactics do you use to make it easier? I’d love any and ALL advice on this because I am such a novice.


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