Guys: One of my favorite words has got to become the word “no”.
In my more recent posts this month, you can see a theme in my struggle with the word “no” and how allowing myself permission to use this word generously has given me freedom in many areas of my life. One of the biggest things I am learning about myself is that I am the main person that backs myself into a corner. It’s so easy to blame work, life events, yada yada, but no: I am the main person who tends to back myself into a corner by not exercising my right to say “no” as often as I should.
I’ve had people reach out to me telling me that they can relate to my love-hate relationship with the word “no”, and I feel so blessed to have ladies that walk along side me with a similar struggle so that we can look at each other eyeball to eyeball and say the most empowering phrase in the world: “Oh yeah? Me too.”
I think a certain commitment has been weighing on my heart and mind much more recently, where I am possibly struggling to accept the reality that it may be time to utilize a “no” and release myself from something I have been involved in for the last 3.5 years. While there are a few things that are holding me back from exercising this “no”, today I want to touch on some of the signs that may alert us to the fact that it is time to lovingly let something go through using the word “no”.
This helps us stay accountable in being good stewards of the time that God has entrusted (yes entrusted!) to us while truly living out our authentic truth. It also will save us from building resentment, depletion, and a strapped schedule.
I’ve slowly come to learn to watch out for these warning signs when I am considering exercising a “no”:
You consistently dread said commitment. Now I know there are days in life where even a blessing can seem like a stressor, and we reallllllllly don’t want to engage, but I’m talking on a consistent basis here. For example, some days I just dread going to work. But once I’m there and have gotten going, I’m good! I truly LOVE my job, and it’s normal to struggle to engage some days. However, if the thought of engaging in said commitment consistently gives you a sinking feeling of dread-even if it’s a good thing-it may be time to consider exercising the much needed “no”.
You find your time more useful elsewhere. If I’m consistently saying to myself “I truly feel my time would better be used elsewhere”, I may not be engaging in the right commitment for myself at the time.
You don’t prioritize the time for it. Our priorities direct our goals, which guide our behavior, which decide how we organize our time. If I’m not actively and intentionally prioritizing the time for said commitment after I’ve examined that I DO have the time to devote to it, my heart may not truly be in it.
You simply need the time elsewhere. Similarly as I mentioned before, some seasons of life require our time to be dispersed a bit differently. And this is OKAY! It is okay to give ourselves permission to change our minds depending on the demands that we have at the time. We need to adapt as life challenges us to adapt. It’s okay to say “my time is needed elsewhere” and give yourself the freedom to invest in what needs investing.
You have a “passive attitude” while involved in the commitment. This is something I had noticed more recently while engaging in the commitment in consideration: I was starting to get very apathetic about the entire process-meaning I truly did not devote the energy to care how it went. It was at this time that I could tell my feeling toward this activity had shifted, as I was developing different priorities throughout the season I was growing through.
You aren’t getting your “baselines” met. This was something that became SUPER apparent to me when I needed to exercise some “no’s”: My baseline functions were suffering as a sign of too many “yes’s!” What I mean by that is this:
- Is this activity cutting into sleep?
- Is this cutting into your ability to consistently fuel your body with the nutrients and food it needs?
- Is this activity interfering with your time to prioritize the Lord and listen to His voice?
- Is this commitment adding too much pressure on your other roles in life-wife, friend, Christian, daughter, parent?
Baselines first. Everything else second.
You can’t define a concrete purpose for engaging in this activity. At this time, my purpose for engaging in said commitment has shifted from “investing in my passion and building community” to “because I’ve been doing it and am worried about upsetting others by leaving”. This is not an authentic reason to stick to something. People-pleasing will get us nowhere. We have to have a definitive purpose to engage in a “yes” vs. prohibiting ourselves from using a “no” when needed.
This is NOT easy to do. Only when we empower ourselves to give ourselves permission to exercise a “no” can we truly live sustainable lives filled with balance. I should know-I spent WAY too long doing the opposite! And this still tends to be my ‘default setting’- I have to work very intentionally to live out this truth for myself.
Embrace “no”: it can be kind to you.