I say yes to things. To ALL the things.
To events, even when they are back to back, leaving me drained and tired. To helping out, even when I realistically have no time to give. To Tupperware parties, even when I have a drawer full of it and need no more. To projects, even when my notebooks are full of unfinished ideas. To the lady at the Myer counter when she wants to sell me hope in a jar, even though I really cannot afford it. To doing things for other people, even when it means my own business suffers from inattention.
Where do all these yeses come from? From an intense desire to be liked by everyone (which I need to tame) and a crippling fear of missing out. Those are not good reasons to say yes. I need to learn the art of saying no.
Why I am talking about saying no in a month dedicated to creativity and opening myself up to new things and new experiences? Because in order for that creativity to blossom, I need to make space. Trying to cram creativity into the small spaces between my busy busy isn’t very relaxing or productive. It doesn’t give room for ideas to soar. I don’t want my creative practice always reduced to an item on checklist, wedged between the dishes and the next appointment. Ten minutes here and ten minutes there because I haven’t made real time for it. Because I have said yes to many other things.
I have gradually begun to realise that saying yes is always balanced by a silent no to other things. Time is a finite resource. Sometimes inspiration and creativity can feel that way too. When I am busy saying yes to everyone and everything around me, I am often saying no to myself and my immediate family. I talked a little about that here.
Some things are easy to say no to – I am not going to do the vacuuming right now, because I would rather sew. Other things are harder to say no to – when an event I really want to attend is on at the same time as another. When a charity I love and support has asked for my help but I know I have no capacity. Sometimes saying no sucks. It feels mean spirited. But in reality, a yes when I have no time to give isn’t the kind of yes I want to give. I want my yes to be fully fledged and committed. I want to be able to give a project my all. If I cannot, then it’s not really fair to the person that has asked me. Experience has taught me other people will step up and fill the hole. I am actually not the only person on earth who can do particular things. People won’t hate me for saying no and my family and my creative spirit will be grateful.
So, I am reassessing my approach to take on new things. I have made myself a helpful little decision tree.
I am going to try and make a little more space in my life and see where that leads. I am going to learn the art of saying no.
Do you struggle with saying no? How do you deal with that?