Saying “yes” to life is a positive way of allowing ourselves to try new experiences. It’s a great way to live: we’re willing to try new things, get out of our comfort zone, and go on new adventures! However, we tend to say “yes” in other situations as well, and not only when it comes to that big “yes” to life. We can say “yes” when others call to ask for a favor or a helping hand. It makes a lot of sense that we want to help others, especially if we care about them and truly want to make their lives easier.
We like to feel helpful. We like to be appreciated. We like to help our friends, relatives, co-workers, even acquaintances. It may have to do with wanting others to be able to rely on us, just as we rely on them. There is also the fear of being disliked if we say “no”, or turning someone down, making us feel like we are failing, as if we aren’t doing enough to be there for them. There’s a certain self-fulfillment that occurs from aiding others.
A lot going on
But while we may have an intrinsic need to say “yes” to others, when is enough enough? Think about it: you’ve got your own set of responsibilities and obligations that may include but are not limited to: working, studying, or both, looking for a job if you don’t have one, daily chores, enjoying your time alone for self-growth, taking care of children or pets, and the list goes on. Most likely, your life includes a combination of these. Add in the friendships you need to maintain, worries over your income, job stability, the environment, the future, and… it’s a lot, isn’t it?
Saying “yes” too much
Now, add saying “yes” to others. No matter how available we may want to be for others, we can’t ignore or disregard our own feelings, urges, and needs. This obligation may come from a work environment or from a personal relationship.
Suppose a co-worker needs some help to finish their tasks, and you want to head home on time to spend time with your family (or just to take a bath to unwind). Saying “yes” once or twice seems okay, but remember that making a habit of ignoring or postponing the things you want to do in order to please others directly impacts other needs in your life.
Along the same line, imagine that a friend asks you to watch their kids on a Saturday night, when you already had plans. Perhaps you feel okay changing your schedule as a special favor, but you have to be mindful of when and how often you prioritize helping others.
Saying “yes” shouldn’t be connected to how much you may want to help others, but how much you can help others without forgetting about yourself.
Stretching yourself too thin to be there for family, friends, or acquaintances in addition to everything else you’ve got going on in your life can prove to be very stressful and burdensome. It may even lead to resentment. Others may become too reliant on you, to the point where they take your assistance for granted and don’t see the effort you make to be available.
Additionally, if you’re too focused on helping others, you’ll have less time and energy to deal with and take care of your own things. This, in turn, will only lead to more stress, as well as potential resentment towards others because you may feel that their needing you is delaying your own goals.
So, what’s the best thing you can do? When you need to, say “no”.
Find Your Balance
Life is full of changes, and just learning to juggle things and cope with what’s going on can be exhausting. It’s important to find the balance that best suits you, so that your wellbeing doesn’t fall into second (or third) place.
But how do you do this?
- Take some time to do the introspective work to figure out what you need, what you want, how you want to do these things, what things you’re willing to delay or put on hold for others, and why, exactly, you’re inclined to say “yes”. We fear we may be rejected or may cause someone to be upset if we say “no”, but more often than not, that’s just our minds doing a bit of overthinking.
- You don’t owe anyone any explanations: “no” is a complete answer (although, agreeably for most, a brief explanation may be useful to not seem rude or strain relationships). Saying something like “I’ll think about it” or “I may be able to help you later” when you already know you won’t be able to will only lead to unnecessary disappointment down the line.
- You can also present the person asking for a favor with an alternative; maybe someone else is available or there’s another way of organizing the schedule, perhaps there are other tasks that can replace the one that’s required… Saying “no” in different ways helps us manage our wellbeing.
At SolaVieve, we understand your wellbeing is directly connected to many different aspects of life — be they mental, physical, spiritual, social, environmental or economic — and it’s important for all of these dimensions that you are able to set your own boundaries and challenges, while still keeping a balance that allows you to be there for others when you can. It’s okay to say “no” to others when you need to say “yes” to a healthier wellbeing.