Learning to say No

Learning to say No

When I was younger, I was really involved in my church. I mean, I pretty much gave the priests a run for their money as far as church involvement was concerned. I read at mass, altar served, participated in a ministry called Jr. Daughters that helped serve the community, had positions in that organization at the local and state level, and I sang in two choirs. Not to mention, I had meetings and rehearsals for all of these things. And because I had a problem saying “no,” I would agree to do other things to help at the church outside of my normal commitments. When someone asked me to help with vacation bible school, I would say “yes.” If somebody needed assistance decorating the church, I would agree to help out. When someone needed me to keep an eye on their kid while they were in a meeting, I wouldn’t tell them “no.” There were some Sundays when I would have to stay after church for five or six hours because of all of the stuff I had to do. And most weeks, I would have to come up there on more than just Sunday. And to be honest with you, if these responsibilities were all I had to worry about, it might not have been so bad, but I also had school and the extra-curricular activities I had there to deal with. And that’s why the fact that I just couldn’t seem to say “no” started to take its toll on me.

All throughout high school, I barely kept it together. The pressure of having to do all of these extra things, while at the same time maintaining my grades, was really difficult. I cried a lot and as some of you may know, hit and kicked a wall or two to keep from completely going off on the people around me. And as I look back on that time in my life now, I realize that a lot of my excess stress could have been avoided by just learning to say “no.” Would not agreeing to help decorate the church for one Easter have been the end of the world? I doubt it. Could they have found someone else to take my place at bible study if I had said that I couldn’t do it? Probably. Could the parent have just brought their kid with them inside of the meeting? Sure. And even if this wasn’t the case, the fact that agreeing to do these activities was causing me unnecessary amounts of stress should have been reason enough for me to decline. My mental health should have been my first priority because if I wasn’t going to look after it then who else would?

Now, even though I spent much of my high school years being stressed out, there is a silver lining. I was able to learn the importance of being able to say “no.” It didn’t happen overnight, but I gradually started only agreeing to things that I wanted to do and that I could do while keeping myself sane. As an adult, there have been numerous times when someone in the church has come up to me and asked me to do something, but I declined simply because I knew that accepting wouldn’t be good for me. And that’s a pretty good lesson to learn, and it doesn’t just apply to my life in the church. If anything comes up, whether it’s at work, school, or in my social life, I seriously make an effort to only agree to do the things that I have the capacity to handle at that time. And you should make an effort to do the same.

Positive thinker, it’s okay to say no. You don’t have to agree to do anything that you don’t want to or that’s going to hurt you in some shape or form. It’s not your job to please everyone. You shouldn’t have to bend over backward and forwards just so that you’re able to do everything that everyone wants you to do. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day for you to try and make something like that happen. So, if you really want to do something, then do it. But if you don’t, then don’t. The world will continue to turn if you say “no,” and you’ll also be a lot less stressed because of it in the long run, and that’s the most important thing!