This article originally appeared on Rebelle Society.
“Happy people say, ‘no’.”
It’s a phrase that has stuck with me for several years now because it is so true. The art of saying “no” has saved me from insanity, feeling overwhelmed, and even emotional pain, but it’s taken me a long time to be able to politely decline and not experience the guilt hangover for days afterward.
I had to realize there’s a difference between being “nice” and being polite. “Nice” implies we do things for others’ benefit, while polite allows us to consider our own needs.
If you’re from the South especially, these two can get confused quite often. Some people will even consider you prey to overwhelm you with tasks because “no” isn’t even in your vocabulary. But, sweet soul, you are selling yourself short.
It’s wonderful to be able to do things for other people, but only when we have done enough for ourselves. We must keep our tank full if we are to experience the true joys that life has to offer. If we don’t, we will always be treading water just trying to get enough air.
It’s a tight balance, I know. There is something inside of us that wants to be a contributing member to the small circles we run in whether that be PTA, work functions, fundraisers, school trips, our friends’ needs, the needs of our spouse or children. The list goes on and on and on.
And there is nothing wrong with that. You can be a contributing member to society as long as you are doing your “soul” duty of taking care of your own needs first. This may seem selfish at the get go. I know it did for me. I had second-guessing out the wazoo of how people would respond if I simply said, “I’m sorry, I can’t right now.” The funny thing, however, is that most people understood and some even spout off words of envy of “I wish I would have said “no” in the first place.”
Our culture is so overwhelmed with being busy and cramming things onto our plate. Have you noticed? We all are guilty. From the time we are in middle school (sometimes even earlier), we have after school activities, sports, recreational groups. From that time forward, this becomes our norm.
But, if you could simply take a “time-out” and re-evaluate everything you have going on and ask yourself “how much of this is absolutely necessary?” and “how much is this adding to my happiness?” I bet you would find that there are a whole lot of soul-sucking activities and obligations that you would be happy to be rid of.
So this New Year, I encourage you to master the art of politely declining. Let the words roll of your tongue. Hear the way they sound out of your mouth. Practice these statements out loud. Allow them to wash over you. Notice the freedom you feel as you say “no.”
Because what you are really saying is that “I choose me,” “I am choosing to take care of me,” “I am important too.” And you are! You are so important. We have to learn to set boundaries around the preservation of self. If you let this aspect go for too long, we start to lose ourselves, our focus, our light, and our passion. To keep these things in tact, we must set parameters for how much and how often and how long we can keep giving, giving, giving.
Let this be the year that you let yourself receive. Fill your cup so you can better fill others.’ 2014, the year of self-love and self-care, because you’re worth it.