Stop Being a Pushover – Why Learning To Say No Is Important

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I’m sitting at my dining room table after a 10 hour work day. No, I’m not eating dinner (might I be so lucky). No, I’m working on a project for the PTO. Not really a project, a project would insinuate an end date, this is more like a job. Another one. Suddenly it dawns on me…I just might be a pushover – a word I would have never associated with myself. Sucker? Maybe. But pushover? Never.

But the more I think about it, maybe I am a pushover.

Why is a saying “no” so damn hard for me? For us?

Come on, I know it’s not just me – there’s a running joke in my circle of friends about the sucker tattoo on our foreheads.  Need something done? Just ask one of us because we won’t say no…we can’t say no.

Need to fill a volunteer position? Just ask us. Need help with a kid? Just ask us. Need us to cover your shift? Just ask us. Need someone to ask for donations? Just ask us.

And it’s not just at school or at work, it’s at home too!

Need help with your homework? Just ask Mom. Need help cleaning out the garage? Just ask Mom. Need a t-shirt tomorrow for school? Just ask Mom. Need your milk glass filled? Just ask Mom.

It’s hard because we want to do the right thing; we want to help; we don’t want to let people down; we don’t want the kids to have to miss out; we don’t want to hear the whining or complaining, but at what cost to us?

I know I’m exhausted all the time….maybe it’s because I’m saying yes way too much. Yes at work. Yes at home. Yes to school. Yes to my hubby. Yes to my kids. Yes to the neighbors. Yes to it all. It’s great right?

Not always.

Yes shouldn’t always be the answer. But it’s admirable to say yes, right? 

I’m not so sure anymore. Why am I changing my tune?

Because I’m not really helping those little people of mine by doing it for them. I firmly believe it is my job to raise my kids to be independent, productive, self-sufficient members of society. When I don’t tell them no, not only are they leaning on me more than they should, they aren’t learning the valuable lesson of limits and independence. And, truth be told, a few nos and a little disappointment make for valuable life lessons.

I’m changing my tune because I’m exhausting myself. Over-scheduled, under-rested  – it’s a dangerous combo. And an easy place to get to when I’m doing all of that stuff I said yes to. Sadly, a tired mom (and wife) is no good for anyone. Maybe it’s just me, but when I’m exhausted, it’s my family who suffers the most and it makes me sad when I catch myself losing my mind with the people I care most about in the whole world.

When was the last time you said 'no' to someone? Do you need to stop being a pushover? Learning how to say no is so important - for you and for your family.

I’m changing my tune because I can’t take care of myself. And when I can’t take care of myself, there’s no way I can take care of anyone else…at least not in a meaningful way. It’s been said in many ways by many people that you cannot light the lamp if there isn’t any oil in it. Same goes for motherhood – if you don’t fill your own lamp, you can’t light it for your family.

I’m changing my tune because  I’m losing sight of who I am. Hard for me to believe, but I know I’m an amazing person, even on the rare occasion when I say no. When I continually say yes, I know I find myself doing things that I don’t enjoy and worse, doing things that aren’t nourishing my true self or my soul.

I’ve realized (slowly) that I don’t have to say yes to everything, and neither do you. Believe it or not, the world won’t stop turning if you say no to someone or something. And if it does, there is plenty of blame to go around. After all, surely you weren’t the only one to have said no, right?

So the next time you are asked to do something and you get that sick feeling in your stomach, take a deep breath and pause. Take a minute to figure out why you’ve got that sick feeling. Take a minute to understand what is being asked and whether or not you want to take it on. Will it enhance your life or the life of your family if you say yes? Will the world stop spinning if you say no?

Take a deep breath, and pause a bit longer. And don’t be afraid to say no. I promise you, it will be okay. The world will keep spinning and you’ll be better for it. You’ll be a better mom, a better wife and a better person for honoring yourself and for once, putting your needs before everyone else’s. In the end, a winning formula for all involved.

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