Friday, April 22, 2016

One Word That Can Change Your Life

As a former people-pleaser with a love for tackling To Do lists and a passion for productivity, it was inevitable that one day my body would say "No more" and my mind would say "I can't".  Perhaps I could have pushed myself harder, but I was moving further away from who I was and who I wanted to be.  It took being knocked down by an autoimmune disease to get me to listen to my body which was screaming out "Enough! No more stress. I need rest."  It took being burnt out by a side business to realize that I couldn't thrive off of making other people happy.  It took having four kids to recognize that something (okay, a few things!) had to go in order to be the mom, wife and friend that I wanted to be.


Why did I do so much? Was it because I was attempting to do what I'd always done regardless of whether I had a family or not? Was it because I thought my body would just keep going at the energy I had when I was 22?  Slowly, I started to say "no" to smaller things and setting limits and boundaries to what I took on.  I decreased my work load.  I volunteered less often. I relaxed in the evenings.  We paid for Out Of School Care so I didn't have to drive as much (and try to find parking!) Saying "no" was scary at first–would that person be upset? Would they think I was lazy?  Slowly I realized that life went on just fine if I said "no" and it actually felt really good to be freed of all the yeses and obligations that went with them.

Five Great Things That Happened When I Said No

1. I had more energy for the things that I wanted to say "yes" to.  I could put more time and thought into my health and my family alongside being a foster mom.  We could do more family days which involved exploring our local communities.  I could join a local book club with old and new friends.  I could start running again.  I could attend a conference.  I could welcome another child into our home.  I could drive my son to hockey and watch his games stress-free because there was nowhere else I needed to be.   I could be more present.   A book that has helped me in this area is The Best Yes by Leysa Terkeurst.

2.  I let go of so much resentment.  When I felt guilted into saying yes ("You should use your gifts" "If you don't do it, who will?"), I did it begrudgingly and did not feel appreciated enough.  It's my own fault for saying yes when I really didn't want to or have the energy for it.  I felt it was unfair that I was asked to do something when someone else could have stepped up.  Well, someone would probably have stepped up if I actually said no.  Brenè Brown, in Rising Strong, says that to prevent resentment we need to maintain boundaries and ask for what we need.

3.  It allowed other people to step up and have opportunities and growth.  I could not physically return to teaching while dealing with my autoimmune disease so someone else was able to have a job.  When I said no to photographing newborns and weddings, it allowed other photographers to get experience and exposure.  Embarrassingly enough (oh, I do not want to say this), I once felt like I was almost irreplaceable.  I was a great teacher, how would they do without me? They did fine and I now have my humble pants on.

4.  My kids were able to see boundaries in action.  Although my parents worked very hard, they always made time for exploring and adventures.  We almost always had dinner and tea time together and that was important to see–priorities.  Let our kids see us taking care of ourselves.

5. I could start processing who I was and who I wanted to be.  I was able to stop and think. Learn. Grow. Change. Reflect. This allowed me to invest into growing as a person.  I would not have had the mental or physical energy to be a foster mom if I was doing as much as I was five years ago.  With this mindset, I realize that I will continue to grow and change as will our family.  I will discover new passions and areas of need and I am comfortable with this.

Now, don't get me wrong.  We can't go around saying "no" to everything but I do think we need to consider why we give the answers that we do.  Have you ever been burnt out?  Have you ever felt relieved after saying "no" when you felt you were supposed to say "yes"?  Have you ever grumbled when doing something you felt you were expected to do? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.

Love,
Louise

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