Learn to say no

This is a follow up from my blog on excuse number 1: I don’t have time to write.

It is true that writers often have to juggle day jobs with social lives and various obligations. However, there is no such thing as not finding time for something unless time is used as an excuse. Some of you might find me harsh but I know for a fact that if I can write with four kids and running a business, than anyone can.

Learning to say no also comes into it. If you don’t know how to say no, your life is constantly going to be about pleasing others or not offending them and your needs will come last. This mean that you will, indeed, not have time to write. I used to be a people pleaser. I found it very hard to say no. At some level, I believed that if said no, no one would love me anymore. I would no longer have friends. My family would kill me.

But being a people pleaser meant that I was miserable. It wasn’t as clear as that because I had a great job, and lots of friends and beautiful children but somehow inside I felt empty and shallow and I thought I was being ungrateful. I had every reason to be happy, yet I felt awful. What was wrong with me? The problem wasn’t me. It wasn’t a lack of gratitude. The problem was that my needs were not met. I was starving on a soul level. This all came to a crunch in my thirties. I said to my sister: I have been a great daughter and wife, but what about me? So I made time for writing and doing mosaics which nourished my soul.

Learn to say no so you can make time for you. It’s not selfish. It’s about survival. Of course it’s important to keep the balance and not only live for yourself. What I mean is don’t always put others first. Not everyone has that issue, so this blog might not speak to you. Then good for you. The majority of my clients don’t know how to say no. They want to make everyone happy. Which works on a level. If your loved ones, your boss, your friends are happy, you are going to be happy too. Yes? Well, no. Not in the long run. Denying yourself to please others does not work.

Saying no gracefully is an art that can be learnt. I suggest at first when someone asks you if you can do something with them or for them, pretend you can’t say. Just practice answering “I need to check my diary, let me get back to you on this”. Even if your diary is in your bag. Nobody is going to actually request to check your bag to make sure you are not lying. And if they do, I suggest you might want to reconsider being in their lives. Or you could just say “I hope you don’t mind but can I get back to you on this later?” Then go home and ask yourself “Do I really want to do this? Or am I saying this to please others?”With practice it will be easier.

Then comes the next step: actually saying no. This is not as hard as it seems. I practice saying no gracefully with my kids. It’s great. If I am eating and they ask me for something, for example, I tell them to wait until I finish my lunch. This wasn’t always the case. Plus I had been raised in a family where no and shouting were usually closely associated. There was no such thing as a graceful no. A relaxed and happy no. Well I love graceful nos. and I hope you will learn to love them to.

To your creativity

Ange de Lumiere

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