Learning To Say No

These past few weeks of my life have been incredibly enjoyable, but also incredibly busy. I had meetings abroad, full-on weekend plans, and working overtime to cover for staff holidays. To say the least, I was not prioritising myself or my sleep at all. On Friday, I finally faced a tricky decision of having to say, ‘No’. Today’s post is about learning to say ‘no’.

Since January, I’d been working towards playing at the spring harmonica blues jam, an end of term concert with the harmonica group that I’m a part of. I had been looking forward to it, but there was still some work to do. At the same time, I was asked to cover a presentation that was to be delivered to 70 or so delegates for work (which took place today), on a topic that was new to me. It was a tricky situation as I couldn’t back down from the work commitment due to it having a knock-on impact on others within my team and extended teams. However, it was quite a task to undertake and more-so with the impending blues jam.

All I could think about was that if I did both, I wouldn’t get to rest for the next fortnight, my calendar already packed with engagements and my body and mind already exhausted. I had to make a judgment call and say ‘no’ to one of my commitments.

Being a person who hates to let people down, make others’ lives difficult or shirk something that I’ve already agreed to, saying ‘no’ is an incredibly hard thing to do. However, over the years (and many periods of bad health due to taking too much on), I have learnt my lesson. It is important to say ‘no’. You don’t need to say it often, but where your health is concerned, it’s important to do so. I used to think ‘I’ll push through’ and tell myself this repeatedly for days on end regardless of how tired I felt. Days would turn into weeks, weeks into months and then almost dead-on every year I’d feel complete burnout. I’m not talking tiredness, but severe exhaustion. The kind where your body won’t move, your brain won’t think and you’re so exhausted that it’s impossible to feel remotely happy.

In the end, I cancelled my participation in the harmonica jam, judging on net that more people would be negatively affected by me not doing the work presentation. Being an Empath, I have learnt that it’s impossible to make everyone happy in certain situations, and tend to veer towards making the most people happy as possible (or reduce as much suffering as possible). I realised that by doing both the jam and presentation, I would not only have ended up burned out, but would have failed to do any one of those tasks even remotely well.

It’s the end of Monday and I’m glad to say the presentation went well and I also caught up on my much needed sleep. I feel positive, bright and full of good energy. I remember back to the days when I would plow on, thinking my dedication to absolutely every single commitment was the way to not let other people or myself down. But it was a false belief. By exhausting myself and making myself really quite ill in the process, I was in no position to help myself or others.

It's ok to say no.
It’s ok to say ‘no’.

Sometimes it can be difficult, but believe me, it’s ok to say ‘no’. Remember that you have one life and many people who love you. Where your health (whether mentally, bodily or spiritually) is concerned, you must prioritise your wellbeing. You must look after yourself. Because you matter and no one can feel your levels of ‘too much’ better than you.


P.S. For those of you who think I should have chosen the harmonica jam, thankfully there will be more in future and I’m sure I’ll be documenting that experience 😉

Have a lovely day/evening, wherever in the world you are reading.

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