I opened up my email inbox the other day to find a few emails from local mom friends to start up our old Book Club. Initially I felt excited. I knew I didn’t have time to include new books in my life right now while studying, parenting, working at home and occasionally on site, and attempting to write my own book. However, I love Book Club and I wanted to make it work, just carve out 30 minutes here or there.
Then there was the problem that during those carved out half hour time slots I already added pleasure activities such as movement exercises, walks, runs, stretches, and dark chocolate time. Yep, that is a thing. I was determined to make Book Club work even though it just did not work for me in this schedule.
Then this happened: after a few other responses from the group, one participant politely declined to continue with Book Club. Her reason? “Try as I might, I just can’t get myself to read the book I’m supposed to. And reading time of any kind is so precious (and scarce) right now.” Now that is something I can understand.
I’m not the only one in the group who related to her statement. A few of us crossed paths at the Farmer’s Market and talked about meeting as a Book Club again. One of the ideas for the club was to get together each month but to only read and discuss a book every other month. The other month would essentially qualify as Wine Club, and there’s nothing wrong with that. In our little Farmer’s Market powwow one friend joked that she would attend the non-reading months. We all sort of agreed.
The truth? Everyone wanted Book Club without the books. Everyone was a busy mom with little time to add “book assignments” to her schedule. What we all really wanted was group time to unwind and socialize. That qualified as a pleasure activity worthy of carving out an hour or free time each month.
What would be wrong with a Non-book Club, or, with just calling it what it was: mama’s night? And, why did some of us feel obligated to make it work?
Part of the motivation came from the need to keep regular meet-ups with mom friends. Another part came from feeling obligated to make someone’s (good) idea work. I love the idea and I wanted it to succeed. Therefore, I felt obligated to make myself a part of the idea even though it didn’t necessarily fit with my current priorities. I even considered adjusting some of those priorities by scheduling my precious unscheduled time.
Saying no is hard. It is really hard when it means saying no to something that sounds wonderful. When you want something to work out for someone, you might find yourself taking on part of the responsibility. But, does it work for you? How often have you:
1.) Started a project that was someone else’s idea?
2.) Covered a shift at work for someone even though it cut into your vacation?
3.) Attended an event that was hard to schedule in but you felt obligated to go?
4.) Agreed to complete a task for someone that cut into your already tight schedule?
5.) Given money to something or someone out of guilt?
6.) Given up your free time to give someone else free time or attention?
7.) Stopped working on something you enjoyed for someone else’s project or time?
The list can go on. I think we can all add to that list. We have all said YES when our schedules said NO MORE! I’m even talking about your free time.
When you do anything on the list above, what feelings come up? Anxiety? Stress? Anger? Guilt? Exhaustion?
Every negative feeling is met with a physical reaction in the body. Your body releases different hormones in response to stress, your muscles tense, your digestive system slows down in preparation for “fight of flight,” your heart rate increases, you might grind your teeth, pull your hair, and even lose some hair. Repeatedly feeling this way creates a harsh environment in the body. This is no way to feel on a consistent basis.
While saying ‘No’ can also create feelings of anxiety and guilt, they source from an ingrained belief that we must ALWAYS help and give service to others. But if you don’t factor your life in the equation, other really important people do get neglected: Family and YOU.
You are really important too and there are loved ones who feel the same way. They need you happy, healthy, and balanced. We can do ourselves, our bodies, and our loved ones a favor and politely say “No” to those requests that just don’t fit right now . . . maybe later.
And, if you want to say Yes to someone, try the email list for future updates. 🙂