A Strong “No”

Today is Day 21 of my Happiness Hacks series.

A Strong "NO"Although today’s happiness hack sounds negative, I’ve found that part of getting my happy mojo back requires shedding tasks that are weighing on me and no longer fit with my priorities.

As I look back over my life, I see the continual adding of new responsibilities without the shedding of many. I envision myself walking along the path of life, picking up one responsibility, slinging it over my shoulder, walking along, stopping, picking up another, and adding it to my load. Finally, I see myself hunched over, barely moving forward due to this humungous, unwieldy load on my back.

The irony is that I’ve been struggling with an actual (not metaphorical) sore shoulder this year. That’s probably why the metaphor came to me so easily.

I’ve come to the conclusion (finally) that I am too tired and old for this practice of collecting additional responsibilities without shedding any. The weight of my load just got too heavy for me to carry well.

While I knew I needed to shed some responsibilities, the act of actually doing so requires other people to get “on board,” which I’ve found to be a hurdle. Deciding I can no longer do something, and others accepting that I’m actually not going to keep doing it, are two different things. I get it. I created this situation because, in the past, people assumed I would be happy to take on the task, and I was. Now I’m not. I’ve changed, not them.

Recently, I faced some resistance to my, “Can someone else do this?” I tried to say no to being part of a meeting that I really did not want to be part of nor did I feel up to doing. I ended up feeling pressured to attend, and, as I had suspected, it didn’t go very well.

When I finally expressed that (1) I said “no” originally for a good reason; (2) I was right in saying “no” originally; and (3) I am now saying a vehement “no” to further involvement, I finally got my message across and extricated myself.

I’ve learned that in order to get to my best “Yes”es, I need to find my really strong “No” when necessary.

Although I feel a bit of discomfort for possibly disappointing other people, I also feel a weight lifted from my shoulders. And I know being less weighed down is an important part of my current path to better well-being and happiness. I think I’m standing up straighter already.

Sunshine

I'm blessed to have five great kids (ages 13-23) call me “Mom.” As a summer camp director for the past 30 years, I've also had the privilege of working with thousands of kids, college-age counselors, and parents. I follow the latest research and trends on parenting, education, and children’s development and love to share what I learn!

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