For a small and seemingly insignificant word, “no” has the power to bring an energizing degree of strength or a deluge of debilitating circumstances. As women, we are constantly asked to do, say, allow, react, create, and deliver in every area of our lives. We remain, for the most part, powerless to utter that two-letter word in fear of world war III breaking out right there over the potpies and tumblers of fat-free milk. The fact is women, especially mothers, have the hardest time disappointing others.
Learning the Lesson
Coupled with a pushover complex, our perceived ability to be superwoman can be more harmful than productive if we overwhelm ourselves with responsibilities that fit haphazardly into our schedules. Kristen Armstrong, ex-wife of Lance Armstrong, recently said, “One of the biggest skills I’ve learned is how to say no. When you say no, you free your heart and mind. If you say yes to everything and treat the things that really make you happy like a luxury-like a dessert instead of a meal-you’re cheating yourself and burdening the other relationships in your life.” The beautiful ,single mother of three has spread her wings and offered this advice and more from her journey toward “becoming the woman she’d always wanted to be” in her new book Work in Progress: An Unfinished Woman’s Guide to Grace (Faith Words).
The Hard Way
The key that Kristen discovered is one that says women need to be more selective about the way in which they spend their precious time. We have an opportunity to steer toward our life goals or to waver helplessly away from them. Sometimes opportunities and granting other’s requests seem to be right for us. Then, like a hand-grenade held in our own hand, our botched efforts blow up in our face with devastating force. We are left to pick up the pieces of our disengaged goals and dreams.
Making Good Choices
Though distractions are all around us, we can’t deny them all, otherwise we would lack the rich substance that makes up the bullion of our unique existence. It’s learning the difference between the good, bad, the hopelessly unneeded, and the desperately wanted that determines how we fair in the battle to keep our focus. I believe that this challenge presents itself at the forks in the road, the places of decision where we all must go in order to mature and grow into the women we know we can be.
Next time you are faced with saying yes or no, consider the following tips and questions.
- First, determine whether you even have time for what is being asked of you. If it is obvious that saying yes would take the last four hours of sleep you get a night, you should probably say no.
Second, does engaging in the activity line up with your skills and talents. If you are an accountant without a creative bone in your body, you might want to think twice about heading up the decorating committee for your company’s holiday party. It’s okay to be involved, just make sure the fit is good.
- Will the new activity bring you closer to your long-term goal or will it deter you? Try to keep the big picture in the forefront of daily activities. Losing sight of your passions and important goals will only prolong the victory dance.
If you are one who gets bored easily or likes to jump from one thing to another, this is the most important question to consider. Can you see yourself finishing the task? If not, be honest with yourself and the person who has faith in your ability to go the distance.
- Use your experience as a guide. If you know things might not go well with the endeavor, simply decline. Honesty is always the best way to show your maturity and concern for the other person. Let go of the stubborn pride that sucks you into doing everything just because you can.
- Not everything needs serious consideration. If it is something simple, make an intelligent choice and move on with your life. Dwelling on whether to make chicken or beef for dinner is not worth the time and effort to sweat over a pros and cons list. You get my point.
- Saying no doesn’t need to be devastating to those around you. Depending on whom you are dealing with, appropriately explain your reasons for the denial, and if possible, turn it into a positive experience. Children can learn a valuable life lesson from not getting everything they want; spouses, bosses, parents, and siblings could stand an occasional no, as well.
Keeping balance in our lives is the most important thing we can do for ourselves and our loved ones. If saying yes too often keeps you from experiencing a joy-filled life, make some changes. Please feel free to share your comments and related stories with us.
Photo by mooshkitty