Monday, December 13, 2021

Saying No

 "I said no to something today!" I say enthusiastically to my husband.

"Oh yeah? Tell me about it."

I am the queen of overcommitting. I have my reasons, a blend of a need to be helpful, a love of being busy, and, to be fair, sometimes the extra income that comes along with certain opportunities.

But that overcommitting leads to stress, anxiety, and frustration, for my family, friends, and colleagues. 

When I'm drowning in a task list I've filled myself, I miss details, I run late, and I am easily irritated.  

Regardless of the reasons why I stay so busy, this level of busy isn't healthy.

My husband shared his own frustrations. My kids asked for a slower pace of life. My friends asked for more meaningful time spent together.  

And, so, I am changing.

It's not easy. I love saying yes. I love taking on an extra work responsibility. I love attending friends' kiddo's performances. I love having guests for dinner.

But, the more I say no, the more I realize how much I was missing in all of the clutter of saying yes.

When I say no, we have time at home on a weekend to catch up on house projects.

When I say no, I have the time to write card to each of my 160 students before Winter Break.

When I say no, I don't feel stressed about sitting with my kids and helping them with their math homework or settling in on the couch to watch a cheesy holiday movie.

Wow, having some breathing room means that I can give more attention to what does make it onto my calendar.  

The pressure really came off this week as I finished a college Spanish course (someone remind me not to sign up for more college classes anytime soon), and I could come up for air and sort files, put together Christmas gifts for my kids' teachers, and give attention to friends who could use some extra love. 

The problem here? I keep relearning this lesson, season after season, and I don't know when it will stick.

My high school journals include highlighted goals to get to bed earlier and put less on my calendar. How have I been learning this lesson for (unrevealed number of) years?

I can say that this time feels different.  This time, saying no has meant that intentional moments to exercise have reappeared in my life, and I can see the difference in my body and feel the change in my mental health.  

I've moved beyond saying no when I feel obligated to say yes. This time I'm saying no to things that I actually want to do, and that's a big difference. I can tell that the lesson has really started to stick.

In the past, I've felt guilty about having less stress. Beyond the desire to say yes. Beyond the need to feel busy. I thought I had to be busy. 

Now, I'm sinking into this slower pace. And my little bubble will be better because of it.

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