Monday will be the day of the week I write about what I'm learning in my life and hope that by sharing very personal and vulnerable ideas or situations that it will encourage you and touch you in the deepest of ways.
I did begin writing this post at 11:30pm Monday, yet it will be posted at 1:00am Tuesday. The intent was there:)
I used to be a YES man or, in my case, a YES woman. In many ways, I still am. In my blog post Saying YES: It Will Change Your Life, I write all about the pros that come to saying yes to different opportunities in life. In this post, I'm going to focus on how saying NO can be just as good for you.
This past week, I've had to say "no" to an opportunity to serve that I'm still having a hard time letting go of because when I see a need that I know I can fill, I do everything in my power to fill it. Except, sometimes, even though you know you could fill it because you have the experience, the know-how, or the abilities, it may not be the right time in your life to do so because other people take priority.
In this particular case, it's my four kids. I can't say "yes" to this need because there's no possible way of fulfilling it with my kids mixed in with the logistics. At this time of my life, my kids need me more than this opportunity to serve needs me.
Believe it or not, there are three benefits to saying no. Now, I'm focusing on saying no to perhaps, serving on particular committees, volunteering in your community, school, or church, or running an event specifically. Saying "no" can be relevant to a big change in your life, as well.
1. Saying NO keeps you humble
This is my biggest challenge when I say "yes." There's a fine line between truly helping others because you want to help them and having a saviour complex. I can say, without a doubt, that I love to see genuine smiles on people's faces when I help them with a problem or to know they've received encouragement or pleasure from a project I've helmed. Everything I've put my hand to, I've received praise for having done an excellent job; or I receive thanks for having put together a fun time.
Receiving this feedback always feels great! It's encouraging and affirming that I've done well in what I set out and determined to do. But if I'm not careful, it could be feeding into a reservoir of pride I have no need for and that could be detrimental to my relationships with other people.
How does saying "no" factor into all of this? Can I say "no" and not be sad or mad that I don't get to do what I know I'm good at, that I know I could be receiving praise and attention for but won't? Or can I easily let go and be ready for the next opportunity that may come my way when the time is right? Maybe I'm having a hard time letting go of this recent opportunity because of these things. Maybe it's because I only have faith that I can do it and not have faith that someone else will step up and help.
2. Saying NO enables you to help others differently
So you can't take on the opportunity you want to, but there's someone out there that can. And maybe they're right under your nose. Having to say "no" can help you grow in the area of encouraging other people to use their gifts or talents in this area that they might not even know they have. You can grow the ability to help that one person make a difference somewhere else. It's called encouraging others, and we could all use some more encouragement.
You can sit back, watch them thrive, advise then they ask for it, and cheer them on when the going gets tough.
3. Saying NO relieves stress and keeps your priorities straight
Life is already busy enough as it is. Knowing your limitations (yes, everyone has them) is incredibly important to having a sane and happy life. So be careful when you say yes to the next opportunity to serve or when you're being voluntold to do something. And what are your priorities? Spouse? Kids? Extended family? Friends? If you say yes to everything, soon you won't have time to fulfil your top priorities. You'll be like Bilbo Baggins, feeling thin "sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread." Stress is toxic to you and your loved ones. Steer clear.
I could say I've felt that exact "butter" feeling so many times in my life. Over the last few years, I've learned when to say "no." I've felt the beginning of breakdowns. When I have, I've backed up and let go of a few things so that I wouldn't go through the nasty business of actually going through a breakdown. Part of it is listening to my body and part of it is just common sense. When I listen, I am empowered for today and the future.
We go through seasons when we have the time and abilities to say "yes" to multiple opportunities. Then we go through seasons where we can barely manage one thing. And both are okay, one is not better than the other. It's just different. Become wise in knowing when you can say "yes" and when you need to say "no."