I don’t know about you, but one big threat to my self-care is my inability to say no. Well, it USED to be my inability to say no. I used to over schedule myself to the point of exhaustion and leave absolutely no margins for error or rest. I have a guilt button about a mile wide and I would let people push it over and over again; letting them talk me into things I did NOT want to do. And the worst part is, it was 100% preventable.
So, the holidays are upon us, and many people say this is when things get out of control. My advice?
Just. Say. No.
I guess it’s easy for me to say, but it’s true. You really need to learn to say no to those things that don’t feed your soul and your goals. And honestly, people will just keep asking for more until you establish boundaries for yourself and your family.
First, you need to identify your goals for the holidays. Do you want to visit that friend you haven’t seen in a while? Have you been meaning to volunteer somewhere or take somebody out for coffee? Are you looking to slow down this season, or do you need to get out a little more to do something for yourself or your family?
Next, write a bucket list. With your goals in mind, decide the best way to accomplish those goals and make it into a bucket list.
Be sure to leave wiggle-room. You won’t know about everything up-front. You’ll forget things that you wanted to do, or you’ll get that invite from somebody that you really want to go to. Leave room in your life to add to your bucket list.
Now, just say no. Anything that doesn’t align with your goals, your bucket list, or feed your soul you don’t need to do. The hardest part of this is not giving an explanation. People will try to make you feel guilty or will try and grill you for not doing what they want you to do. You’ve got to let that ish go.
The people that mind don’t matter and the people that matter won’t mind.
Honestly, this will be a test to see which people in your tribe are really there for you and which are there to use you. The ones that are really there for you will back you 100% and will understand your need for down time. They will understand that you have things you need and want to do, especially during the holidays, and will be a resource for you to meet your goals.
The ones that are only there to use you will give you guilt trips and try to manipulate you for their own goals. They will question your reasoning, trying to find a break in your logic so they can win the argument and get you to do what they want. They will make you question yourself, and will question your loyalty. Let them. Just. Let. Them.
In her article, 21 Ways to Give Good “No,” Christine Carter recommends having go-to answers so you’re not caught off guard. Here are a few of my favorites:
Vague but effective: “Thank you for asking, but that isn’t going to work out for me.”
Ask me later: “I want to do that, but I’m not available until April. Will you ask me again then?”
Keep trying: “None of those dates work for me, but I would love to see you. Send me some more dates.”
Gratitude: “Thank you so much for your enthusiasm and support! I’m sorry I’m not able to help you at this time.”
Give Dad a chance: “You know, I feel like moms are always getting to do the holiday parties at school. Let’s ask Dad if he wants to help this year.”
Just No: “Thanks, I’ll have to pass on that.” (Say it, then shut up.)
Gracious: “I really appreciate you asking me, but my time is already committed.”
I’m Sorry: “I wish I could, but it’s just not going to work right now.”
It’s Someone Else’s Decision: “I promised my coach (therapist, husband, etc.) I wouldn’t take on any more projects right now. I’m working on creating more balance in my life.”
My Family is the Reason: “Thanks so much for the invite, that’s the day of my son’s soccer game, and I never miss those.”
I Know Someone Else: “I just don’t have time right now. Let me recommend someone who may be able to help you.”
I’m Already Booked: “I appreciate you thinking of me, but I’m afraid I’m already booked that day.”
Setting Boundaries: “Let me tell you what I can do…” Then limit the commitment to what will be comfortable for you.
Not No, But Not Yes: “Let me think about it, and I’ll get back to you.”
Have you found other strategies that have worked for you? How do you maintain a balance during the holidays?