I’m a people pleaser. It’s true…
It started as early as when I was a kid, I always wanted to please everyone. Help PawPaw wash the car, help dad tie his shoes, help mom clean, and so on. Clearly, they could get the job done quicker if I was out of their hair, but I tried. Always in everyone’s business “helping” them. I moved in with my aunt and uncle to help ease the grief of their daughter’s death. Later, I moved in with my roommate to help her pay rent. The list goes on and on. Eventually, I ended up becoming the children’s minister at the church in Texas that I attended when I found out I was pregnant with my second child and working a full time job. I felt like I was being pulled in a million different directions and I was losing myself along the way. I tried to be wonder mom and fell flat on my face. Everyday was a struggle and my emotions were all over the place.
One day my husband sat me down and told me something that had never even occurred to me. “Amber,” he said, “you have to tell them no.”
No was such a foreign word to me that I really couldn’t process what he was trying to tell me. After much thought, and reading “Boundaries” by Henry Cloud and John Townsend, I knew what I had to do. I needed to pare things down to the bare minimum and try to start living my life again. And it actually worked. I resigned from children’s ministry and found a position at the bank that was closer to home. This cut down on my daily commute time. I made a commitment to my family to be there for them. It was actually going really well and I felt confident in my decision to say “no.”
Big life changes and learning to say no…again
Our family made a big move to South Carolina and I gave up my full time job to be the domestic engineer. My job is to take care of those pesky errands that tend to ruin the weekend, make sure that the household runs smoothly, and keep the kids going to all of their activities. I took up building and refurbishing furniture and we even decided to host a small group from our church every other Friday. Things were going well and all of the gears and cranks that help run this family were moving in perfect timing, like the insides of the Big Ben Clock Tower.
Soon, I was getting requests to do bigger jobs that weren’t really my thing, or smaller jobs that didn’t even pay the gas for me to get to the person’s house. The always wonderful phrase “I have a job for you” turned into an anxiety attack waiting to happen because I had ten jobs waiting and everybody wants their pieces now. I had working friends that would call on me to do stuff for them since I was a “stay-at-home-mom” and “had nothing better to do.” I actually had a neighbor who I had never met before grill me about where we were from, if we are military, and if I work or stay at home. Once this inquisition was over, she asked me to start taking her child to school in the morning (more on this in a bit). This is when I realized that it was time to start saying no again.
Let’s be clear on a few things. First of all, stay-at-home-moms work. I am busier now than I ever was when I worked a full-time job.
Second, I also have a small business in addition to my regular domestic engineering duties.
And back to the lady asking me to take her child to school…I didn’t even know her or her kid! The answer was NO.
Tips for saying no
- If the person asking you to do something is going to get mad at you for saying no, then maybe you shouldn’t be hanging out with them. Unless you are crab walking out of something you have already agreed to, then you should feel fine saying no.
- You don’t have to give a reason. The person asking you should take that no for what it is and then move along. If they can’,t then that’s their issue and not yours.
- Don’t feel the need to say that you are sorry. Sometimes people see that as a weakness and will try to monopolize you with it. (I’ve seen it happen).
- If you can’t help someone now, but want to in the future a “not right now” is sometimes easier to say.
- If “no” is too hard, then try something else. For instance “I can’t accommodate you right now” sounds a little more professional.
The takeaway is simple. If saying yes to something puts too much stress on you, learn to say no. It will help you respect yourself and others. No is not always a bad word, but sometimes it is necessary.