Since you were digging holes in the sandbox, you've been taught to be sweet, to accommodate others, to always smile and be polite. Sugar and spice and everything nice, right?
So... how's it going? How much time do you have for yourself? Is there a ball of resentment slowly growing in your chest? Is your to-do list never-ending? Maybe you're even showing physical signs of stress, in which case it's time to slow down, pronto!
THE POWER OF NO
Your friend wants to meet for lunch, you haven't seen her in a month.
Your niece wants your help with a project for school.
Your co-worker is wondering if you can take a project off her plate.
If you have space for these things, great! It's wonderful to help others. However, ask yourself; will this add stress and pressure to my day? How much? How long will it take for me to bounce back from this expenditure?
Pause for a moment and sit still. Take a few deep breaths and check in with yourself. How does this task feel in your body? Is it a tightening, a clenching? Or a light feeling, a release? What does it feel like to imagine saying no? If it feels wrong, ask yourself why. Is it a people-pleasing instinct, or do you actually want to do the favor?
As the saying goes, no is a full sentence. How can you say no in a kind and loving way? Something along the lines of, "oh gosh, I'd love to help but I'm really busy right now. Raincheck?"
TEACH AND DELEGATE YOUR WAY TO INNER PEACE
Does your kid want you to make their favorite chocolate chip pancakes? Assuming they're old enough, why not teach them how to do it themselves? If there's anything in your personal or professional life that can be delegated, do it.
If you don't want to delegate it, ask yourself why not? Is it possible that while you're sick of taking care of everything, there's an element of control you're not ready to give up? That brings us to the next point.
DOES IT HAVE TO BE PERFECT?
If you delegate projects to others, it may not be done at the level it would be if you did it yourself.
Deep breath. Does it have to be perfect? Why? The first time you did this task, was it perfect? Probably not. So, allow people the time to get better. And yes, they may not care to do it as well as you would. You can talk to them and express how important it is to you that it's done well. But at the end of the day, there's only so much you can do. Done is better than perfect.
There's also another option. They may do it differently than you would, and they may even do it better! It's all about letting go of control and allowing others to add their own flavor to things.
EXTERNALIZE AND ORGANIZE
How many projects are you running in your brain currently? Sometimes getting it all out can help to organize your thoughts and make you feel calmer.
It can also allow you to share tasks more easily. There are tech-y solutions for this, apps like Trello, Todoist and Asana. But a big calendar on the fridge works great too!
Do you have a friend who is always 20 minutes late when you meet for coffee? Do you silently grit your teeth through your welcoming smile? Maybe it's time you express how you feel. Here is a good template for a constructive conversation.
- When you XYZ,
- I feel XYZ,
- I imagine XYZ,
- In the future, please XYZ.
- Say something affirming and loving.
So, for the above example, you could say something like, "when you're late for our coffee dates, I feel hurt. I imagine that you don't value our time together. In the future, please make an effort to be on time, or at least text me if you're running late, so I know what to expect. I love you and so value our friendship."
EXPECT CHANGES IN YOUR RELATIONSHIPS
When you start setting boundaries, saying no and prioritizing your own self-care, you may see some relationships change. People have gotten used to you doing things for them, accommodating them and never calling out their behavior.
Your healthy relationships may hit a few bumps, but they will be fine. The co-dependent relationships may suffer. Yes, it's possible you may need to take some distance from people who don't support you supporting yourself. Healing and growth can be painful, even scary. Just know it's normal to go through a grieving process as you evolve.
In the long run, setting healthy boundaries and prioritizing self-care is a win not only for yourself, but for those around you.