What are you saying yes to?
The art of saying no and thriving amidst the busyness of life.
In today's world most of us feel over-scheduled and overwhelmed. We have the disease of busyness. If we're not busy being busy we feel, well, lazy.
There's a continuous background hum in our lives of feeling the need to DO more, achieve more, work harder, hustle stronger, keep going, keep pushing. I'm for all of these things but not when it means saying yes to things when really you want to say no.
This has come up in my conversations with my clients, friends and colleagues several times this week. It's a pertinent issue at a time when managing overwhelm and creating space for ourselves becomes a necessary part of our daily/weekly/monthly/yearly to-do list.
Why it's difficult to say no.
A common cause of our over-flowing schedules and feeling of overwhelm is the (perceived) ease of saying 'yes' and the difficulty we feel in saying 'no'. We feel uncomfortable in saying no because we don't want to displease or let down others, we worry about not doing something that we think might help us move ahead in our career, business, social life, or, we just get a serious case of FOMO.
If we look a little deeper, the habit of always saying yes, can be a deep rooted need to be liked, to be accepted, a fear of abandonment or being alone, a lack of self-worth or the need for external recognition and validation.
In the end, saying yes when really we mean no only comes back to bite us on the butt. We end up feeling resentful, angry, stressed-out...over-scheduled and overwhelmed. We give away our time, knowledge and energy (for the wrong reasons) and pay for it in the long run.
When you say yes to others, make sure you are not saying no to yourself. - Paulo Coelho
So how do we break free from the habit that keeps us feeling stressed and overwhelmed?
Like all things that lead us out of our comfort zone, it takes practice.
What does your body say?
'Stage one' is to notice how your body feels when you say yes to something.
Does the 'yes' make you feel light, expansive, excited? Do you feel it in your belly?
Or does the 'yes' make you feel tense, constricted, heavy? Do you feel it more in your throat?
Our bodies hold just as much wisdom as our minds and when we tune-in, are intelligent guides to what we really want in life. Most of us are so busy day-to-day that we spend most of our time in our heads and operate purely from the neck up. We don't notice or we ignore the subtle messages that our bodies tell us.
Next time, when you have a decision to make; whether it's to meet a friend for coffee, take on a new piece of work, speak at a conference or move to a new location, I invite you to gently take a moment, take some deep breaths and check in with your body. Notice how you feel.
Keep practicing, keep noticing.
Getting comfortable with the uncomfortable.
'Stage two' is to practice saying no when it's really a no. This means getting comfortable with the uncomfortable. Because it's going to feel uncomfortable. But I promise this is where the gold is (isn't it always). Saying no when we really want to is one of the most empowering practices you can do for yourself. It boosts your confidence, your sense of value and self-worth, improves your negotiation skills, your ability to deal with uncomfortable situations and most importantly, helps you get more in control of your schedule and reducing your feeling of overwhelm.
Delving a bit deeper.
'Stage three' (if you're really looking to go advanced!), is to ask yourself the following questions:
What drives you to say yes when you really want to say no?
What holds you back from saying no?
Describe how you feel when you say no
Write down your answers in a journal or notebook. Don't give too much thought to what you think you should or shouldn't write, just let flow whatever comes to mind.
When we become aware and acknowledge our potentially self-limiting thoughts and feelings, we gain the perspective necessary to step back, better understand what we need and practice new behaviours that help us thrive.
Enjoy the exploration! Get in touch and let me know how you get on. I always love to hear from you.