This has taken me years to learn. I must say that I’ve had a little help in getting there faster with some words of wisdom from Brené Brown:
Choose discomfort over resentment.
I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this before. It’s become my personal mantra to ensure I don’t over-commit myself. As an introvert and HSP I need lots of downtime, lots of alone time. This entails saying no to people.
Basically what Brené means is to choose the discomfort of saying no to someone at the time, rather than committing to something you would rather not do/don’t have time for and resenting it later.
This makes perfect sense, but in reality it can actually be pretty hard to do.
The more I have learnt about who I am and what makes me tick, the more I have come to see how important it is for me to honour my needs. This means saying no to people sometimes, even if it disappoints them. At the end of the day, I find that this statement (attributed to Dr. Seuss) is so true:
Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.
Saying no means offending or upsetting some people, but I think that is ok. Those closest to me know I need a lot of time alone and if I say no to them they are usually pretty understanding. They know that is part of who I am. The more that people get angry at me for not committing to doing what they want me to do, the more I feel like they don’t understand or appreciate who I am, and potentially don’t matter as much.
Is this a harsh way to approach life? Maybe. But I think it is so essential that we look after ourselves and meet our own needs, because most often others aren’t going to do it. Besides, it’s my life and I get to choose how I spend my time. I want to do the things that make me happy, not just what makes others happy.
It might sound selfish, but I think of it as the whole oxygen mask thing – we need to look after ourselves first so that we are better help to other people. It’s an act of self care. I have more to offer others if I’m looking after myself properly, than if I’m rushing around trying to make everyone else happy.
How often do you find yourself saying yes to people when you would rather say no? Write about why you think you do this.
What are the consequences of saying yes when you would rather say no?
What are some small ways you could start saying no to people, when it feels right to you?
How might your life feel different if you honour yourself and say no when you want to?
Write/print out the saying ‘choose discomfort over resentment’ and put it somewhere you will see it often.
Note: this post was originally part of a series of 30 life lessons and journal prompts for my 30th birthday. You can access the rest of the lessons and prompts here.