I know you’ve heard the phrase, “just say no.” And while it was used to take aim at the war on drugs, I am here to encourage you to “just say no” and stop willfully taking another drug of choice that many people take and tend to overdose on, especially at the holidays–the drug of doing.
I’ve never understood why so many good people are addicted to the need for doing, especially when they don’t enjoy it and can’t afford it. What I see is that they feel pressured by others because they feel have no way out.
We are at the cusp of the holiday season, where everyone is going to ask you to host the holiday meal, the holiday get-together and, oh, while you’re out, to pick up the holiday gifts.
The demands on your valuable only-24-hours-in-a-day by others will fill your dance card to the brim with all sorts of wonderful things that well-meaning people will pressure you into doing because, you’re so good at doing it, we’ve always done it at your home, no one is as good as you and all the other syrupy-sweet comments to make you feel sick or guilty if you don’t comply.
Ah, flattery, the opium of the masses who fall for the drug of commitment, obligation and responsibility. Sounds like fun doesn’t it? The answer is no.
Listen, I understand that you want to do the right thing and be benevolent and helpful, and while I can appreciate your kindness and generosity, I just want to remind you that you matter, your time matters and your health (mental and physical) matters.
And I want to push the point to something I’ve seen through the years, which is this: you won’t grow the next generation of leaders if you continue to stand on the stage.
If you want to grow the next generation of leadership, management and governance of your organization, your place of worship or your social clubs, all that’s needed is to lend a steady hand and help others ascend the stage and fight through their fear and find their voice. In the same way, we all need to guide the younger friends and family members as they take on the responsibilities of hosting some of these events and dinners.
While I can appreciate your kindness in helping others, allow me to remind you that you need to stop fighting against your better self–that visceral emotion that keeps telling your heart, mind, soul and body not to take on one…more…thing and push back against the pressure that others so willingly place on you.
I believe that pinch of emotion you feel when asked to do something for someone at some time that you don’t want to do, is an internal alarm that you should not fight against or you will dull your internal protection meter, which guards your health. I’m not trying to scare you, but I do think you need to back off of all the extra commitments that others assume, ascribe or push your way and that you accept because they don’t want to do the work and you’ve been a willing addict in the past.
Friend, you need to stop fighting your internal gut response that squeals to you not to take on any more work, responsibilities or activities at this time. I’m not saying never. I am saying, at this time, you need to decline excess work and obligations and honor yourself by saying no to things you cannot do or simply don’t want to do, whether it is for friends, family or others in your circle. Remember, saying no to what doesn’t deeply matter, means you say yes to what does–on your terms and in your time.
Warning: You will get some pretty hard pushback from people who are your friends and others who are not so friendly, so brace yourself with a firm smile. It is coming, and the reason it is coming is because others simply don’t want to do the work.
There, I said it… others don’t want to do the work.
Set aside the flattery of their words and take a hard look at the responsibilities they are pushing upon you, and then make your best decision for your best life.
Remember, others want you to do the work because it relieves them of the duty, obligation or accountability. In all honesty, I don’t blame them for wanting to hand everything off to you–there is no doubt you’d do a great job, yet again–but should you shoulder the burden, is the question I am asking.
I am fully aware that some reading this today are very happy to do for others and have no trouble giving and giving and giving, and if that is the case, bless you, and keep on keeping on if it is your calling. Most likely it is your choice to fill your time with things you enjoy doing. My message isn’t for you today, but please be aware that a day may come when you’re tired and weary from the work and, if and when that day comes, just remember to take care of you, because I care about you.
I know that some family member will be very unhappy with me because I encouraged you to ask them to bring a dish or two or three and a dessert, or invite them to come early and set the table, or plan to stay after and help clean up. And I might get an angry email if you tell them I said that you don’t have to cook this holiday, you don’t have to plan the events and you don’t buy things you can’t afford. I am using my “pulpit” to remind you that you matter and your time and health and energy matter. If others choose not to appreciate you honoring yourself by you setting your boundaries, then maybe it is time to move a little farther away from those who only appreciate you when it suits them.
I often invite friends from all walks of life to dine together at my table, and I enjoy every meal, every joke and every dish I load in the dishwasher. I am willing to do the work when I am able, but I am also strong enough to say, “Not this time,” when I am tired.
Friend, don’t allow others to guilt you into doing what they don’t want to do, because–hear me loud and clear–your happiness will never offend the people who truly care for you.
I know you’ve heard the phrase that sometimes you have to do what is best for you and your life, not what is best for everyone else, and I’ll add that you should be careful of those who expect rather than appreciate.
As you gear up for the upcoming holiday season, consider in advance what you can and cannot do. Set your boundaries with love, starting with you. Just say no to the drug of doing because you matter, and it is the best way to care for yourself so you can care for others.
I’ll leave you with this quote, “An empty lantern provides no light.” Self-care is the fuel that allows your light to shine brightly.
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