I can’t be the only one. The words, “sure, I can do that!” tumble from my mouth; but inside, I might cringe. Really? Even though I’m barely keeping my head above water I’m agreeing to yet another commitment?
Yes. Because I can’t say no.
I’ve always had to cope with my penchant for saying yes even when I really, really should have said no. I couldn’t say no to boys when I was 16; I couldn’t say no to my girlfriends when they wanted to skip school; I couldn’t say no to one more hour at the club even when I should’ve been studying for exams. And today, I can’t bear to say no to the opportunities, invitations and requests that come my way, even when I'm clearly in the weeds. When I say no to my kids I’m often consumed with guilt. Why is that?
For me, I think my yes-woman tendencies are tied to my people-pleasing nature. I want everyone to like me. To find I am helpful, agreeable, generous or capable. That I'm a fun mom, a loyal friend, a go-getter with a servant's heart. If I say no, am I admitting I can’t handle one more thing? If I turn down an opportunity, will I get another? Will I make someone mad? Will they hold it against me forever and curse the day I was born?
My husband jokes that he’s the only person on earth who gets a no from me. I really hate to admit he’s right, but he’s hit the nail on the head. When I say yes to one person, it almost always means I have to turn down something, or someone. And since I can’t let my kids down, very often, he gets the short end of the stick when it comes to my time and energy. And what will I have gained if I’ve pleased someone else with a yes and disappointed my husband with a no?
He’s not the only one who suffers when I over-schedule myself with commitments. I’ve said it before… I am a natural multi-tasker, whirling dervish, Type - A kind of gal. I love it when my fingers are in all sorts of pies… it makes my life interesting and exciting. But there have been times when I’ve taken on so much that I can’t sleep at night, or focus on conversations with my “babies” or brush my teeth without worrying I’ve wasted valuable time. Sometimes, I have to say no so that I can keep the balls juggling seamlessly without dropping one. Some of you are smiling. I am the queen of dropped balls. See where all the yeses can get you?
I’m not saying I’ve perfected the art of saying no. It's likely I'll never become comfortable saying the n-word. But occasionally when my hand’s been forced, I take a deep breath, prepare for the world to fall apart, and say it with as much grace as I can muster. No. And you know what? The world hasn’t stopped spinning yet. People still ask me to do favors, sit on committees, take on projects and go to parties. And when my life is in balance, it’s just so very sweet to say yes, and mean it.
Just ask my husband.