My children and I had just returned from a fun-filled day of watching college soccer at the local university. I was exhausted and all I wanted to do upon return to our home was to collapse on the couch and relax before starting dinner. That is when it happened. Just like clockwork my youngest child walks up to me, lets out an exasperated sigh and says, "Mom, I'm so bored. Will you play a game with me?"
I suggested a few alternatives to my participation, yet nothing seemed to suffice his boredom. Just when I was about to cave in, I remembered the dirty word that another mom-friend had recently taught me. I decided to give it a try.
No, I do not want to play a game. No, I do not want to be your entertainment. Go outside. Play with your sister. No, I am done.
As it rolled off my tongue, it did not even seem natural. It went against every fiber of my being. I wanted to say yes out of love for my child. I wanted to say yes because I felt the obligation and guilt that most moms feel when they refuse their child's request.
Does this seem familiar? Maybe you are a yes person with your job, your friends or your personal schedule. I am, by very nature, a yes person. I enjoy helping. I want to bake three dozen cookies for your daughter's club meeting. I want to host a last minute slumber party for my daughter and her friends. I want to say yes when in reality I really should say no.
The two letter dirty word is not always easy to utter, but so necessary in the busy world in which we live. Here are three reasons over-committed people need to hear and learn to say the word no:
1. Over-commitment can hurt much more than feelings
A dear friend of mine shared her story of over-commitment. Not only did she start forgetting what she had committed to, she also ended up losing a friendship. I know we might think we are doing what is right by saying yes to another task or relationship, but eventually over-committing will drain you. You cannot juggle everything and expect not to drop something. It is better to do a few things great than a lot of things mediocre. People that truly are looking out for your best interest will understand when you say you cannot do something. In fact, most friends would prefer you be honest and say no. It could save a lot of heartache down the road.
There is a difference when you are doing something out of obligation and something out of love. Sometimes, when we don't know how to say no, we get in situations that make us miserable and it is reflected in our demeanor and our performance. We become bitter and can resent the very thing or person we agreed to help. Just as you give, you need moments in which you receive. When your love tank is empty, it will make you emotionally and mentally tired. You will begin to see your commitment as a problematic task you must complete out of forced duty and not desire. You simply cannot give what you don't have in you to give. Take time, refuel and refocus.
This point has always been difficult for me to digest. Many times I feel like I must say yes because if I don't the world will end. Note: None of us are that special. I had to learn the hard way that I am not the only solution to life's problems. We are all gifted in different areas and there are some tasks in life that I simply cannot do or should I even attempt. There is, however, someone that is gifted in that particular area of need. How awesome is it to know that regardless of our differences, we are all so awesomely designed to fit pieces of a bigger puzzle. It is OK not to be the right puzzle piece.
We cannot be everywhere at every moment. We cannot be everything to everyone - not even to our family and friends. And the good thing is we don't need to be. It is time for each of us over-committed yes people to start using that dirty word NO. Let's renew our spirits, our bodies and our minds. Our families will thank us for taking time out for ourselves and we will be thankful we did too!
Sarah is a Christian Author and Speaker. She wrote the parenting book, "Walking the Talk: A Parent's Guide to Intimacy and Healthy Relationships" and maintains the blog A Life Inspired. Her passion is to equip the next generation of families to speak boldly and walk confidently in their faith and charge as parents. You can stay up to date with Sarah on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.