My #1 Sanity Saver: Just Say “No”

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Hello, my name is Rachael. And I’m a recovering people pleaser.

It’s nice to meet you. If you’re reading this, I’m guessing you may be a people pleaser, too. Not that there’s anything wrong with that (oh great, I’m relapsing).

Wanting to please everyone probably means you’re generous, kind-hearted and selfless. All good things. But it can have a self-serving side, too. We do things to be liked or admired. Or to compete with the Joneses. But I can tell you from experience that you may as well say “sayonara” to your sanity if you don’t treat your time like the precious commodity it is.

Why? Picture a day in your life being like a pot of warm, delicious soup. You offer a sip to this person. Ladle out a cup to that lady. Offer a bowl to that guy. Now this greedy chick wants seconds. Pretty soon there’s “no soup for you!” (Anyone else miss Seinfeld?) And you end your day hangry and malnourished.

So how to get your soup and eat it, too? It’s easy. But hard at the same time.

Just. Say. No.

Oh, yes I did! I’m giving you permission to say “nope,” “nada,” “uh-uh,” “not this time,” “I just can’t,” “hells no” and, only to be used in extreme circumstances, “talk to the hand.” Kind of liberating, right?

I’m not suggesting you go all extreme and say “no” to everything and everyone. Feed your kids, work your job, help your friends when they need it and tackle that other important adulting stuff. But what I really, really want the tired, overrun, overwhelmed, feeling-like-your-half-assing-everything you to know is that saying “n-o” doesn’t make you a bad parent, partner, friend or coworker. (Group hug, everybody.) It only means that you’re at peace with your limits and are making an effort to take back your time. Not sure where to start? Here’s where I’ve learned to...INVOKE THE NO!

#1 To that soul-sucking friend, coworker or family member. You know, the Eeyore in your life. The one who’s always complaining. The one who’s never short of never-ending drama (usually brought on by themselves). The one who never asks how you’re doing. The one who leaves you feeling exhausted after a 5-minute convo. It’s time to kick that killjoy to the curb. Send the phone to voicemail when they call. Cancel that you-only-set-it-because-you-feel-guilty lunch date. Hide their vague, attention-seeking Facebook posts. Tell them you’re swamped when they stop by your office cubicle. Discreetly do whatever you need to and cut the cord today.

#2 To the kiddo asking you to do what they can do for themselves. “Mom, can you fill my water bottle?” “Mom, I’m hungry, can you fix me a snack?” “Dad, can you find my uniform?” Yes, it’s sometimes easier to do it yourself so you don’t have to deal with the woe-is-me whining that will no doubt follow. But give them a chance at self-sufficiency (it may take some time) and I promise it will eventually turn into a win-win for everybody.

#3 To the Pinterest page trying to convince you that you don’t care enough if you don’t make that three-tier, fondant-wrapped unicorn birthday cake decorated with figs and flowers for your daughter’s birthday. Or have the most perfectly coordinated living room complete with a gallery wall of professionally shot and framed family black-and-whites for company to oogle over when they come to call. If you love doing that stuff, go for it! If it’s not your thang or it’s going to stress you out ‘cause you don’t have the time, don’t force it. Buy an ice cream cake from Dairy Queen or splurge on a bouquet of flowers to brighten the room if you’re expecting visitors, and call it a stress-free day.

#4 To that “fear of missing out” feeling. FOMO strikes when you want to skip that after-work happy hour or social event with friends. After a long day or week, sometimes you just need to embrace your inner hermit, sit your ass on the couch, pop open a pint of Chunky Monkey and binge-watch (insert your favorite guilty pleasure here). Take the time to recharge. This is soooo important, y’all. Your friends will still love you and fill you in on all the juicy gossip the next day. The only thing you’ll miss is the hangover.

#5 To that “perfect” parent you’re always comparing yourself to. Fight the urge to fit in with the overzealous team parent who’s always signing up Johnny for those expensive, out-of-town (insert sport here) clinics (unless you’ve received word that college recruiters are attending the next little league game or your kiddo is genuinely enthusiastic about doing it). You’re already killing yourself driving them to multiple practices and games a week. Piling on even more means inevitable burnout for you—and them.

Or the mom who always seems to have a list of well-planned educational activities at the ready. Your kids aren’t going to become flunkies if you don’t always have something planned to stimulate their busy brains, I promise. Turn your brood loose in the backyard with a few cardboard boxes, markers and duct tape. Or encourage them to knock on some doors and find some friends to play with—you know, like we used to do.

Same goes for the do-gooders, a.k.a. the ones always signing up for field trips, PTO, team parent, fundraisers, etc. (God bless ‘em.) Yes, school, church and youth organizations absolutely need your support and you should give it to them—but don’t run yourself into the ground trying to do it all! Do what you are capable of and don’t feel guilty about the rest. No one who really matters is keeping score.

So how are you spending your precious minutes? Are you investing in activities that nourish your soul and body, or enhance the lives of those who mean the most to you? Then congrats, you’re slaying it. Or are you like me (the old me), juggling all those bowls of soup—covered in wet chicken and noodles—because you don’t want to let anyone down or look like you don’t have it all together?

Trust me. If you want to find happy, sometimes “no” is the way to go.

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© Rachael Liska, happyhearthappyhome.com

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