I would be foolish to think that I have this skill wholly mastered, and it’s not a constant work in progress. When you’re born a natural pleaser like me, saying “no” to things is extremely difficult. Maybe it’s for fear of letting others down. I can’t stand the thought of someone being upset with me. Perhaps it’s for fear of missing out – hello FOMO. Whatever the reason is, saying yes to the right things, and no to others takes time – and honestly trial and error. I’ve found that sometimes we say yes to something we end up deciding wasn’t truly worth our time (or money). Then, I go to the next part of whether or not it will take away from my overall health (mental and physical). Will a weekend getaway leave me tired and dreading the week ahead – then that’s a quick NO because I’m momming VV hard these days, and there ain’t no time for that.
Ranking as a Type 2 on the Enneagram scale, I’m plagued with inner voices continually telling me that if I’m not doing something for others, I’m selfish. Type 2’s are described by @yourenneagramcoach as being “sensitive and empathetic, they prioritize relationships, making sure the people around them always feel well-cared for and loved with their acts of service, helpful advice, and nurture.” WHOA, lookout! Mary is weak, and everybody knows it! She’ll say yes to about any request!” or “What could be keeping her so busy that she can’t join us for this?” These thoughts are real for me (and other Type 2’s), and it’s something I still struggle with. How will others perceive me if I say “no” to their invitation or request? If I only cared as much about my own family when saying no. Too often, they are the ones that suffer when I have spread myself too thin. Having children has forced me to narrow the focus of what is most important. That’s not to say that it’s easy and always happens. If something is taking away from my ability to be an energized, engaged, and (mostly) happy mother – it doesn’t “make the cut.” This could be something as simple as saying “yes” to a dinner invitation, instead of cooking at home and eating as a family. Keeping it simple. On the flip, life is about relationships. As always, it is important to decide when it’s time for us to say “yes” and revive ourselves and nurture those important relationships with friends and family.
Beginning this past August, there was a period that I was gone six weekends in a row. Although many of these occasions were special and ones I honestly didn’t want to miss – it was a real struggle for me. Are there any mothers out there like me, they appreciate a mental break from the grind, but struggle when they’re away? It’s a constant push and pull for me, and my heart goes out to the mothers who can relate! After those six weeks, I found myself completely exhausted and almost bitter. Have I mentioned that I require a generous amount of sleep? Well, I think you’ll catch on. I’m just now coming up for air and recovering.
How do we always know what the next best “yes’s” are? Well, that’s where it gets tricky. I regularly pray for wisdom. Wisdom to know when to say “no” for me and when to say “no” for my children. I also hope pray that I’m not misunderstood by the other person (this could be anyone – even David) if I say simply “no.” Nobody walks a day my (or your) shoes to know what a sacrifice it might be to make an event, and I have to be confident knowing that. I urge anyone who struggles with these feelings of doubt to fight hard against them. Say NO, and OWN it. You have the freedom to make choices without being scrutinized for them and if you feel pressure, shame on the person applying it! I’ve linked below some great resources for support and strategies in living out these methods, along with prayer. Lusa Terkeurst also offers a 6-week bible study on “The Best Yes,” which I would love to do this with a few other ladies who are in this season of life with me.
Social Commitments are my biggest struggle. Weddings, babies, all the beautiful moments in life. These are HUGE events, but what happens when they don’t exactly line up with the timing of your life events? Especially after children, when it’s not just your schedule to consider, is it okay to say no to these events? Will you be misunderstood? Here’s a great story for you…
Today one of my very best friends is in labor. By the end of the day, no doubt, she’ll have her first son. I was (very) pregnant when her desert bachelorette weekend rolled around, and only two weeks postpartum when she had her lovely Florida wedding. Because it was my second child, I knew that this would be a hard event for me to commit to after such a life change. Traveling with an infant, being in those foggy first days… you know, all the things! Declining her invitation to be a bridesmaid was one of the hardest decisions I have ever made, but one she took with absolute grace. We remain best friends today, and THAT is a testament to what true friendship is – not to mention the kind of person Emily is. She never once guilted me or made me feel bad about my decision. I took away so much from this, and I remind myself often that if someone truly loves ME, they’ll respect my decision to say no.
I will take a moment now to praise my Mom and Dad for what excellent parents they’ve been when it comes to “sharing” holidays with us. Many times, I’ll have discussions with my married friends about where they’re spending the holidays and how that makes them feel. They’ve always encouraged David and I to spend our holidays at home, with our children, and create our own traditions. I’m thankful for the peace they’ve given me in a world of pressures I feel otherwise. Pressure can be financial, social, physical, and emotional (and many others). I try to consider most of these four when making “bigger” decisions. My decisions, however big or small, affect my whole family. This is a significant responsibility, but one I take with such joy. Being overscheduled and spread thin leaves me with a dull ache in my soul. A depletion. When I feel like I’m living intently, managing my time well, and effectively using “small no’s” and “big yes’s,” I live a happier life. What is something that you can say no to today, so your time is free to say “yes” to a much better (or even bigger) thing?
Here are some great takeaway tools linked below: