We are people pleasers. We want to make other people happy and in order to do that we agree to do a lot of things. Making people feel happy and helping people succeed feels good. Because of that, we say yes to a lot of people and a lot of things that we know we don’t want to do. We have a problem saying no. I have a problem saying no.
My work is meaningful and has a huge effect on the lives and happiness of others. Every single day the words I choose and the services I provide have the ability to make the lives of others better. In retrospect it is a large burden to bear, holding the happiness and success of others in your hand. If I am not available, people don’t receive the same service, they won’t get the help that they need and deserve. That weighs on me every single time I am sick, every single time I feel like I don’t have the energy to keep going. I have to keep going because others depend on me. It’s exhausting. Sometimes I feel like I just can’t keep going. I can’t talk about your rape one more time, I can’t talk about that murder you saw happen, I can’t talk about that time your dad tightened a belt around your neck and made you watch as he raped your sister. I am tired. I can’t take it anymore and each story weighs on me. I lay on the ground as I absorb your weight and get sucked further underground.
As much as I know my work is important I need to to recognize that my ability to help others lies in my ability to keep myself safe and healthy. Have you ever gone on a trip and listened to the flight attendant tell you that you have to put on your own oxygen mask before you help others put on theirs? It’s a truth that we need to remember every single day of our lives. If I can’t help myself, I can’t help you. Sometimes helping myself means that I have to put boundaries in place to protect myself. Sometimes I have to call in sick because I need a day to myself to rest, relax and ground myself. A mental health day is just as if not more important than a physical sick day. Sometimes I just have to say “no, I’m not coming in to work today” or “no, I can’t take on that extra project”. It’s not that I want to lay on the couch all day watching Netflix, but know that if I don’t, I’m going to sink further underground with your story until I can’t be dug out again.
We need to learn how to say no. We need to say no to projects we can’t finish without feeling stressed. We need to learn to say no to that friend that wants us to go to their Tupperware party. I want to make my boss happy and I want to make my friends happy but the reality is that if I say yes to everyone I will slip so far underground that I can’t breathe anymore let alone be helpful to anyone.
We can’t please everyone and if we don’t put ourselves first we won’t be able to please anyone let alone ourselves. It’s okay to say no and sometimes it takes practice to feel comfortable with it.
Say it with me….. “NO!”