The Art of Saying “No”

 

 

Your friend asks if you would edit her essay. Your kid’s teacher asks if you would run the bake sale. Your boss asks if you would stay late.

What do you do?

When you can’t take on one more thing? When your plate is overflowing? When you simply don’t want to?

Has anyone here mastered the art of saying “No”?

You in the orange shirt.

“Um…open your mouth and say the word ‘no’.”

Hmm. Interesting.

*pushes button*

*person in orange shirt drops through trap door*

Anyone else?

Good. Now that we’re all on the same proverbial page, let’s talk.

 

Some will say it varies. It depends on who is asking and what they’re asking. I’ll allow this line of reasoning. To a point. This is part of the issue.

I mean, really, if your boss asks you nicely (or not-so-nicely) to stay late, most people say, “Sure, you wretched piece of…” or probably just, “Sure.” Some people, like me for instance, say, “Of course! Not a problem!” Then those people, like me for instance, wonder what just happened.

If a friend wants help with a project, most people will probably help but they’ll be honest about what kind of time they have to offer. After all, their friend will understand. Some people, like me for instance, will sigh internally and not speak up about my lack of time and tell them to send it (if they haven’t already sent it because they know I’ll say yes).

It’s easier to say no to the bake sale request. Or so it would seem. But then some people, let’s say…um…me for example, begin thinking about the last time they assisted in any of their son’s school activities. Then, when they can’t remember (because it was like 7 months ago), say, “Absolutely!”

These answers come from negative emotions such as obligation or worry (employer), fear of upsetting someone (friend), and guilt (school).

For one who has not mastered the art of saying no, or even taken classes in it, this can be problematic regardless of the circumstances.

And for one who feels guilty or obligated or in some way responsible for making everyone happy, saying no to demands on your time can be damn near impossible. This is what I lovingly call The Yes Mess.

I want to scream. I want to scream loudly, “Hell, no! Are you kidding?! I couldn’t fit another thing into my schedule if I wanted to! I’m not a robot! Aaaahhhhh!” Or something like that. Instead, I say, “Sure! No problem!”

It is a problem.

I feel like this is linked to self-worth. By neglecting myself for others, I’m basically saying that other people’s projects, assignments, happiness, work, time, etc. are more important than my own. In other words, other people are more important than I am.

They’re not.

I need to remember that.

Instead of immediately saying yes to everything, I am making myself a promise to say, “Probably.” Or “I think so.” I know. It’s ridiculous. It’s not even close to a “no” but it’s as close as I can realistically get at the moment. Baby steps. Plus, this might make it easier to come back and say that I can’t.

If I’ve already agreed to something, that is even more difficult for me. I don’t want to let people down so I run myself into the ground making sure I do it. Or I let it slip through one of the numerous cracks in my life and feel horribly guilty.

So. If I say yes, I am giving myself permission to say, “I thought I could fit this in my schedule but I just can’t right now.”

I am not exaggerating when I say this stuff stresses me out, hurts my health, and keeps me up at night.

My health and well-being (and that of my family) must come before any demands on my time.

That’s really the end of that. Let’s see how this goes.

 

 

Have you mastered the art of saying “no”? If not, why? If so, how do you do it?

 

The “Yes” Mess

 

 

When you say yes to every request, you’re going to have a real problem. Because, sooner or later, you’re going to ask yourself, “How did I get into this mess?”

You, sweet stuff. You are how you got into this mess. No reason to play the blame game. Okay, lets play. Tag. You’re it. You’re to blame. You did this.

You probably didn’t know it would turn out to be so:

  • Time-consuming
  • Annoying
  • Boring
  • Frustrating
  • Difficult
  • Time-consuming

But…would that have stopped you?

If you had known, what would you have done?

When faced with someone asking for your help or a favor (big or small) are you able to say, “no”? If not, that’s something you really ought to think about.

Which I am. Actually, I’ve been thinking about it a lot. As you’ll see in my post tomorrow.

This has been called many things including “the disease to please”. Catchy, huh? Literally and figuratively. FYI: I have this disease so use Purell when you’re done reading, just to be safe.

Until tomorrow, gentle readers.

 

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.

ThoughtBubble

Do you say “yes” to every request? Where does that leave you?

 

 

 

Time, Time…Ticking Away

 

clock-sig

 

Some people are always whining about not having enough time.

I am one of those people.

Inevitably, I’m subjected to someone telling me, “We all have the same number of hours in a day.” They then tell me I’m choosing to spend these hours not writing or reading or blogging and that, they claim, is my problem.

Uh huh.

Well, I’ve got to say, that really used to tick me off. (Get it? Tick me off? Tick. Tock. That was fun.)

But I guess, if you think about it, they’re right. I am choosing.

What they don’t realize is that the choices some of us make are significant: Write or eat? Read or sleep? Blog or bathe? Respond to post comments or spend time with our children?

While most avid readers would lose a bit of sleep to finish a good book, please… Be kind when someone says they are short on time. Because there are people who actually do have extremely limited free time due to circumstances beyond their control. And their choices aren’t always easy.

There are writers who are choosing between finishing their physical therapy exercises and finishing writing their next chapter. There are unwashed mums (and dads) who are missing out on a game of Monopoly with their kids to read blog posts and respond to comments.

There are meetings and appointments, science fairs and soccer games. There are art shows, recitals, school functions, and award ceremonies. This is in addition to yardwork, cooking, cleaning, laundry…

Sometimes, the choice isn’t between writing and watching TV, it’s between writing and attending their child’s play.

To me, that is not a choice. And for those who don’t understand that, there’s really nothing I can say. (Though I’ll probably still complain about lack of time.) #sorrynotsorry

Usually, I choose my health and my family over reading, writing, blogging, and social media. But not always. I’m ashamed to admit it, but there it is. And I know I’m going to regret it.

Yes. We do all have the same number of hours in a day but not always the same amount of time. In regards to how we spend that time, yes, we have choices. But some choices are easier than others.

 

Do you feel like you don’t have enough time to get things done (reading, writing, social media, blogging, commenting…)? Do you find it easy to make choices about how you spend your time? Are you one of those “we all have the same amount of hours in a day” people? Be honest. We’ll still love you.

 

I Need to Get the Hell out of My Own Way

 

I walked away from writing.

 

Get Out of My Own Way - sig

 

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

But I ran back—characters shouting in my head and fingers itching for the keyboard.

I need to write.

Without it, I am incomplete. I am miserable.

So why am I not writing? To be fair, I’ve started flash fiction again. But I’ve stopped there.

I’m not taking a scene or idea and running with it. I’m not working on any of my novels. What’s going on?

Well, I’m busy. My health isn’t great. My to-do list is growing every day. I have deadlines, meetings, and appointments. Did I mention kids? Because. Kids. I have a lot going on in my life right now.

When it comes to writing, I always have an excuse ready. Except I call it a “reason” because I’m a word nerd and these small differences often wind up making a big difference.

Excuses are crap, my writer-self says.

Reasons are real, tangible things that get in my way, my writer-self says.

I hate to admit it but it’s true. Think about this. You MAKE excuses, you HAVE reasons. See? My writer-self is right. Also, she’s full of shit.

I need to get out of my own way.

 

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.ThoughtBubble

 

Have you ever caused your writer’s block? Been your own problem? Are your “reasons” just excuses in disguise? 

 

Letting Go of Social Media

 

Let go of social media?! Yes, I know. We can’t do that. We’re not allowed. As writers, we must be on all the social sites to build our platform and brand ourselves and whatnot. But I’m letting go. Does that mean I’ll have less success? Maybe. Maybe not. Probably. I’ll miss out on opportunities if nothing else.

I read this post by Lisa Reiter and it resonated with me. She talks about being busy and organizing her writing. Pfft. Who needs that? With two young kids, a husband, a house, a job, appointments, meetings, blah, blah, blah, I have all the time in the world to sit down (uninterrupted) and write.

As the saying goes, “If you do one thing, it’ll be your best. If you do two things, they’ll each have a bit of your intent to do your best but they won’t be your best. If you do ten things, they’ll suck.” Okay, that’s not at all how the saying goes and I’m not sure there’s a saying even remotely like that but you get my point. Hopefully.

If I do those ten things with a bag full of the fifty things I’m not doing sitting on top of my head, the ten things are going to really suck and I’ll wind up hurting my neck. Something’s got to give. And, if I look back and realize I haven’t sent anything in yet for my column this month or worked on my book or submitted anything to…anywhere, then social media has to go.

Okay, I’m not getting rid of social media entirely, I’m just attempting to stuff it into a box and shove it in the corner. Social media is a rope. (I’m going somewhere with this. I swear.) Instead of throwing the rope to the ground and leaving it unattended or allowing it to lasso me, I have to take control of it. “Letting go” of this rope means untangling myself from it so it doesn’t choke the life out of me but making sure it doesn’t get soaked and moldy in the rain. Hence, the box in the corner.

 

social media rope

The Rope of Social Media (A.K.A. A ball of string I found around the house)

The rope of social media shouldn’t be a noose, it should be a lifeline.

A connection to my audience, potential editors, agents, and other writers.

Lisa says in her post that she has set aside a day (one day!) a week that she calls her “Blog Admin Day”. In the post, she uses words like “addictive” and “compelled”. I feel like that sometimes.

Technically, she’s talking about blogging but I’m applying it to all social media. I don’t know if I can set aside one day to write my blog, read other blogs, comment, read litmags, research submission guidelines, catch up on my Twitter account… Seems a tall order. But I’ll try. Because I need the rest of the week to do that thing I love to do with words like putting them together and making cool sentences (and fragments). I need time to write. Also, I’m on call 24 hrs. a day as a mom so there’s that.

I’m going to attempt to organize my own Social Media Admin Day. Let’s be honest: Days. I think I need two. For now.

Interesting. I wrote this post almost exactly a year ago. This crisis isn’t new. Maybe it resonates with me because I’m going through it (again). Maybe more people are dealing with this. Maybe it’s the time of year. I don’t know. But I do know that many fellow bloggers, writer friends, and tweeps are deleting their accounts, taking breaks, or wondering out loud where they’re headed.

Two days for social media/blogging time didn’t work for me. And I have nothing inspirational to say. Just… You’re not alone.

How do you manage your social media? Do you read/comment on blogs? Do you have time to read anything else (poetry, short stories, books)? Do you have time to write (something other than your blog)?