Over Commitment: How (and why) to Say NO! (Episode 151)
Do you struggle with over commitment and saying no? This podcast episode is for you - on how to not over commit, why you should say no, and what it allows you to say YES to.
When you say no to something, are you aware it always means yes to something else?
Over commitment is a beast
Over commitment seems to be a classic American plight, where we all need to do more, be more, live more, do, do, do, more, more more.
When I polled people over on Facebook, we got a lot of affirmation from others that people-pleasing, over-committing and saying no are all serious struggles for many.
Mandie shared, "It’s something I’ve struggled with all my life. I’ve truly been working on this since we got on the road. It helps that my husband reminds me that I shouldn’t say yes all the time! I’ve always been so consumed in helping everyone and making sure everyone else is good and okay that I’ve let myself down. I don’t care for me and what I need. So this past 6 months or so, I have vowed to take care of me!"
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So what to do? How do you not over commit? Well, first off, why do we?
Listener DJ shared, "There’s a psychology at work here, typically stemming from scarcity thinking. We think that if we say 'no' now, then we'll never have the chance again. We get so obsessed with our feelings of guilt for what we have we feel bad about turning an opportunity away. And sometimes just straight up we are so used to starving that we think we always will, so we say yes to everything out of self-inflicted terror of starving to death...I say we only because I'm acutely aware that I'm not the only one who struggles with this.
By saying no, what are you able to say yes to?
Your energy, your peace, your ease?
Do we believe that saying no to one thing means we say yes to something else when we don't SEE the thing we've essentially said yes to?
If we can't get past that, we can't flip it to say no to the wrong thing having confidence and FAITH that there's a yes out there!"
Don't Pour From An Empty Cup
We can have all kinds of great intentions and desire to give, but if we are completely depleted, there isn't much to give! Jessica shared,
"I've realized that when I say yes to everything, I become stretched too thin, overwhelmed, and my patience will suffer. If there is too much on my plate I find that the quality of my work also suffers and I become unhappy with things that I usually love doing (like photography). So, I'm learning to take a step back and feel ok with saying no. It's still difficult for me but I feel relieved when I do!"
Setting clear boundaries allows you to give more, be more, love more, invest more in others because you are pouring from a full cup.
By being maxed out, stressed out, over-worked and over committed...are you really able to truly give your best? Do you really show up and shine when you're stretched so thin?
Be sure you are intentional in what you need to stay recharged and prioritize that. What motivates you – are you adding this in? Maybe it's getting your exercise in, taking a nap, meditating, or setting time aside to read a book just for fun. Are you prioritizing the things that truly do fill your cup so you are ready, recharged and have the space to say yes to things?
We all have different needs and different perspectives. What you need to recharge, and what you need for your own personal and mental health may look very different than someone else. It's a-ok to say no completely because of where you are in your own life and it have nothing to do with the actual request.
Even scenarios like this - Misti shared:
"The things I over commit to seem to be taking up the slack for others. It's things I want to create but with a community. I end up doing the majority of the work. I have tried to step back and not do so much but the work still benefits me as bulk purchases."
Sometimes even if the intention is to make things better for everyone, it can cause so much work that you can end up feeling resentment, be exhausted or overwhelmed. Then you have to ask if it's worth the energy exchange of what it takes to make it happen.
is it a "Hell Yeah"?
Another big thing is to determine if this is really and truly a "hell yeah" moment. Author Derek Sivers lays it out here:
(There is no yes)
Use this rule if you’re often over-committed or too scattered.
If you’re not saying “HELL YEAH!” about something, say “no”.
When deciding whether to do something, if you feel anything less than “Wow! That would be amazing! Absolutely! Hell yeah!” — then say “no.”
When you say no to most things, you leave room in your life to really throw yourself completely into that rare thing that makes you say “HELL YEAH!”
Every event you get invited to. Every request to start a new project. If you’re not saying “HELL YEAH!” about it, say “no.”
We’re all busy. We’ve all taken on too much. Saying yes to less is the way out.
And Mama Says Namaste listener Elmer added,
"When you say 'no' to good, you leave room to say 'yes' to great. Defining what 'great' is requires deep introspection. But once it’s defined, you’ll know and feel comfortable saying no."
Set - and Clearly Communicate - Boundaries
Sometimes at the core of your personality style, you want to keep the peace, be rewarded for accomplishment, etc. It can be more of a struggle for some personality styles to really say no if they feel it might let another down. My brother shared his own struggles with saying no:
"I say yes to 1) avoid conflict and relational discomfort, and to 2) win approval. Then I find myself doing whatever, with a bitter heart and attitude. I'm better than I used to be, but still fall to this. I've literally had a few times of automatically saying, 'Yes!' to my wife, then coming back and admitting...'I could do it, but I can't with a good heart.' She has been so grateful for my honesty."
That honesty is so much better than the resentment for sure. It's hard to crave peace and yet say "no", knowing that's not the "peaceful" way for both. Yet that relief - and the gratitude from those who appreciate your honesty - is affirmation that it's more helpful. It's in our vulnerability we most connect!
It's not just about personality styles - sometimes we're motivated by the "quick win" - if it makes you money, you should say yes, right?
Scott shared, "My body says no, but my wallet says yes. I have experienced this by being tempted into making a "quick buck". It usually took more time, effort and sometimes cost me money. The worst is that the money can fly out so fast you wonder why you wasted your time. Seeing that my time=money; I was able to see that the distraction cost me more and took away from my goal."
Remember, you are exchanging energy - in exchange for that money, what is being sacrificed? Your time, your sanity?
Abbey shared, "Just because I can do it and would be good at it doesn’t mean I should, have…or WANT to." And Joy shared that she's able to navigate it now better as she has recognized her own limitations. She uses a Dr. Seuss quote her mama would always say to her, "Them that matter don't mind, and them that mind don't matter."
Remember that those who love and want best for you can respect a no. Setting clear boundaries is so important. If you aren't clear on what you will and won't stand for in your own life, it's pretty hard for someone else to make that decision for you.
I love how Amy shared,
"Unless you know how to set healthy boundaries and say 'no', 'yes' does not mean as much. I appreciate when people can say no, it takes a lot of trust and accountability."
And here is the biggie, and Tricia nailed it here:
"My words of wisdom for saying no: Don't give an explanation unless absolutely required. So many of us try to justify our no's (often to make ourselves feel better) by explaining (or over-explaining) ourselves. We don't need to explain ourselves. Our choices are our choices, and people should respect them as such. In my opinion, it doesn't make a difference whether I don't want to plan party because I don't feel like it or because I have 150 commitments for that week already. I'm saying no because I want to say no. Period. (I've had to remind myself of this many, many times!)"
Many, many times, less is more. Some people don't want to hear why. Some people can't understand or agree with your why. And some people - the ones who matter most - respect and honor that your no has significance to you and that is all that is needed.
Some additional resources for you
- Do you have a Child-Centered home?
- Setting Boundaries for Children...and Intimacy
- How to Eliminate Toxicity and Thrive with Organic Relationships
- Are Your Relationships Organic…or Toxic?
- TOXIC RELATIONSHIPS AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT THEM (EPISODE 57)
- 5 Tips for Difficult Conversations You Want to Avoid (Episode 82)
- When Routines Are Off And Expectations Are High (Episode 83)
- 6 Tips on Navigating Criticism
Your Weekly Challenge:
Say NO to something today so you can say YES to something else! If you are not sure how to navigate it, use these awesome tips from listener Jamilee:
So I have a few catch phrases I’ve used over the years.
- 1) If I can’t say NO my YES has no meaning.
- 2) It’s FOR me not AGAINST you.
- 3) Just because I can doesn’t mean I should.
And in a pinch...
- 4) Let me pray/meditate on that and I’ll get back to you.
Just because you're asked doesn't mean you're forced to say yes. Make sure your yeses have meaning and significance and they are a good fit for where you are at this present moment. We are all navigating this big crazy world, all at different levels of self-awareness, confidence and understanding of who we are. Have integrity around your yeses by not saying "yes" to everything. Empower others to step into their own strengths - your "no" may be the perfect opportunity for another to step into a perfect fitting yes for them. Because it's in our differences that we can rise even higher. The uniqueness in each of us strengthens all of us. Namaste