It’s rewarding to help others, but when helping means we become physically or emotionally unwell, perhaps then it is time to acknowledge we can’t do everything, and that sometimes, by helping others we are hurting ourselves.
I learned the hard way, that while choosing to say ‘yes’ may be the easiest thing to do in the short term, in the long term that one word can be very costly.
To be clear, I don’t mean this to apply when there is a genuine crisis, or an all hands to the pump type situation, such as when a family member is rushed to hospital, but more about day to day situations, where sometimes it’s not about people asking you for help, rather it is about them insisting or assuming that you will drop everything and help them.
We all make choices everyday, and many of us are habituated to the ‘yes’ choice, and it can take a lot of chutzpah to say ‘no’.
So I wonder, if like me have there been times you have overcommitted yourself, or agreed to be involved in something that is not what you truly wanted? And like me, as a result of not choosing to say ‘no’ have you ended up feeling burdened, resentful, or even victimized?
The hardest part of saying ‘no’ is the response of the other person. People are usually disappointed when we tell them ‘no’, and while some people respond graciously, often there is significant push back.
Do you know someone who won’t take no for an answer?
They will plead, cajole and pressure you. Compliment you to stroke your ego to get you to charge your mind. Lay a guilt-trip on you, or give you the silent treatment, or be outright rude about being told ‘no’.
What does that look like? Here are some comebacks I have heard first hand when I have said no.
“But you’re so good at it.”
“But you’re so much better at it than I am.”
“It won’t take that long.”
“I guess I’ll just have to forget about it.”
“Well if you don’t want to help.”
“Well I guess you just don’t care.”
“I thought I could count on you, but I was wrong.”
So in the face of those sorts of responses, how do I know if saying ‘no’ was the right choice? For me, if I feel a sense of relief after saying ‘no’, then that tells me it was the right choice.
If you are already swamped, over-whelmed, or just at the point of whelmed, where taking on one more thing could result in total physical or emotional exhaustion, saying ‘yes’ to yet another request may be doing a favor for another person, but you may be doing a disservice to yourself.
There are times when saying ‘no’ is important for my physical and emotional health, and as it is a mitzvah to care for our bodies and our minds, I view it as positive thing.
I’d love you to share your thoughts on this, but it’s okay if you don’t, because ‘no’ is a valid choice.