In my post on Monday I mentioned that great talk I went to where the speaker made the point that to say no is to protect what you’ve said yes to. As I said in that post, it helped me see the concept of saying no and setting limits in a much more positive light.
Inspired by this speech, I took some time to reevaluate how I got myself back into this state of being overwhelmed and overbooked; specifically, I took a look at where I should have set limits but didn’t.
I started by listing the essential things I feel called to do right now, i.e. what I have (or should have) said yes to:
- my vocation is, of course, always #1
- a low-time-commitment meal ministry at our parish that I’m involved in
- making regular time to connect with friends and family
Through prayer and discussions with my husband, I decided that those are the highest priorities for me right now, and that I do have the bandwidth to do them.
That led me to the question: In order to say yes to these things, to what (or to whom) do I need to start saying no? The answer was surprising.
I realized that the vast majority of my feelings of being overwhelmed were due to a very specific, identifiable group of people. These folks are constantly pressuring me to take on more than I can handle or just lose sight of what really matters in my life right now. In order to regain balance, I must start saying no to:
- That woman who’s always insisting that if I am not personally involved with every event I get asked to help with, it will fall to pieces because nobody knows how to do it as well as I do.
- That socially immature girl who jabbers warnings at me that friends and acquaintances will be angry and deeply offended if I don’t reply to every single voicemail or email or blog comment or Twitter tweet or text message right away.
- The person who whispers that I can’t accept help from anyone because it’s too complicated and, besides, people would think less of me if they really got a glimpse into my life and saw how un-perfect and disorganized it actually is.
- That nagging lady who insists that cannot trust God to work out situations that are beyond my limits; the one who says that I must personally control everything with an iron fist and balks at the suggestion that I need to stop when I’ve hit my limit and just turn it over to God.
- That spiritually immature chick who tempts me to seek the instant gratification that comes with other people’s approval more than I seek the still, small voice that indicates God’s approval.
So that is the list of people who have been and continue to be bad influences on my life, who constantly pressure me into getting in way over my head and lose sight of my true priorities. These are the people whom I must learn to boldly say no to if I have any hope of living a life of peace and balance.
And, as you’ve probably guessed, they’re all me.
If anyone else is in a similar situation, I’d be interested to know: To what (or whom) do you need to start saying no?
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