How I’m Reclaiming My Time By Learning to Say No
“Unfortunately, no, I can’t make it to your event.”
“No, I can’t loan you the money this time.”
“I want to, but I just can’t go this time.”
“I would like to, but I just don’t have time to do it.”
“I can no longer be in this type of relationship.”
Without any context, these types of responses may come off as harsh, but at times they are necessary. I don’t know about you, but when it comes to my personal life, these types of responses were definitely not being utilized enough.
Whether it was because of my tendency to cater to my “people-pleasing” personality, fear of letting others down, or always trying to be the “hero” for someone else, I used to think that saying no – no matter the situation or no matter how many times I should’ve said no – was downright mean, or I felt guilty about saying it. Not to mention the fact that I’m a “giver,” so I have a natural tendency to give and give; so much so that at times I will run myself ragged because I become so tired and drained. But like they say, “You can’t fill someone else’s cup if your cup is empty.”
Furthermore, there’s a scripture that says, “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” Nevertheless, I realized that if I was giving with the wrong intent or simply because I felt pressured to do so, then it wasn’t for the right reasons anyway.
My husband would tell me all the time, “Babe, you need to learn how to say no sometimes.” He knew I always managed to find a way to say yes to everything, but would later feel resentful or overwhelmed because I overcommitted to more than what I expected, or I was put in a situation where I couldn’t do what needed to be done for myself, let alone for our marriage.
Nevertheless, thanks to my husband and a great book called Boundaries (Cloud and Townsend) I’m learning more and more everyday just how important it is, and even liberating, to have boundaries, as well as the power and positive implications of utilizing the word no. Nowadays, I’m gaining the courage and wherewithal to say it more frequently whenever necessary.
In case you were living up under a rock the other week, “Auntie Maxine” (formally known as Congresswoman Maxine Waters) delivered for us yet another powerful affirmation that is basically the new power anthem: “Reclaiming my time.” She let it be known that “When you’re on my time, I can reclaim it.”
In other words, she was not going to allow another second, another minute or another moment to go wasted simply so that another person could beat around the bush and continue making excuses instead of getting straight to the point. Some may call it rude, but I call her a woman who is fully aware of how valuable her time is. She understands her boundaries, and what she will and will not allow.
For me personally, I’ve had to say no to a number of things more recently within the last few years or so including weddings, events, parties. At times it might’ve hurt other people’s feelings, although it wasn’t my intent, but at the end of the day, that’s what was best for me and my household.
For example, I had a friend who felt some type of way, because I didn’t make it to their wedding. Trust, we wanted to be there, and we still even bought them a gift, but part of the reason why we didn’t make it was because: a) It was last minute and totally unexpected, and b) I had traveled entirely too much the months leading up to the wedding, so it didn’t really work for me and my husband’s schedule at the time. Needless to say, it didn’t mean that we loved them any less; rather, it meant we had to make a decision that was best for us at the time.
Needless to say, setting clear boundaries and reclaiming my time has taught me how to say no to:
– Relationships and friendships that hinder me more than they help me. “Sometimes physically removing yourself from a situation helps maintain boundaries.” (Cloud and Townsend)
– People who say no to me, because it is possible to be too nice
– People who always want you to show up, support them, and cheer for them, but are never there to support you
– People who repeatedly make more withdrawals than deposits (constantly taking, but never have anything to give)
– Spiritual leeches and people who literally drain the life out of me
– People who expect me to do what they’re not willing to do, or even try to do, for themselves
– Events and activities that I haven’t had adequate time to plan for no matter how much I wanted to go
– Anything and anyone who thinks they will come before or are more important than my husband
– “Negative Nancy,” “Pessimistic Pam,” and “Messy Jessy”
– Bending over backwards for others who aren’t willing to even lift a finger for me
– Stopping everything I’m doing for those who are never willing to ask or do anything for me.
Like I always say, “Sometimes saying no to everyone else means saying yes to yourself…and that’s okay.” So, I’ve learned how to take more days to relax and reflect. I’ve learned to embrace the quiet moments at home, and take a break from social media, television, and other distractions. Nowadays, I appreciate a good massage and a spa day, and even the simple idea of rest, because contrary to popular belief, sleep is NOT overrated as it relates to overall health and well-being. Sleep isn’t for “suckers;” laziness is, and trust me, I’m not as pleasant to be around when I haven’t had enough sleep.
Although I’m still a work in progress, and by no means have I mastered the art of saying no, by reclaiming my time I’ve noticed that I don’t harbor those ill-will feelings toward certain people, including myself, for taking on more than I can handle. I feel less pressure and less overwhelmed, and I definitely don’t feel as guilty about it.
How will you reclaim your time?
I can honestly say that looking back, I definitely wasted a lot of time on unnecessary and unimportant things in my life. It’s true that lost or wasted time is something that you can never get back, but you can always change how you utilize your time in the future. Time is a gift, and at some point or another all of us will have to make tough decisions about how we spend our time.
So, I have a question for you: What are you going to do to reclaim your time?
- Will you continue in that “situationship” hopelessly waiting, or will you reclaim your life and the time you’ve spent waiting and wondering?
- Will you continue accepting excuses from other people or will you require more effort from them?
- Will you continue to sleep on your dreams, or will you wake up and make your dreams a reality?
- Will you continue making excuses or will you make an effort?
- Will you have a pity party, or will you start making plans?
If you spent 2016 and half of 2017 giving your time to someone who didn’t deserve it, then it’s time to reclaim it. I like how Ephesians 5:15-17 puts it (NIV): “So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.”
DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE WORD NO, and don’t be afraid to reclaim what’s yours. The more you use the word no, the easier it will be; not to mention the less regretful and resentful you will feel about the decisions you make, as well as who or what you allow into your life.
I’d love to hear how you will reclaim your time. Please share your thoughts and comments with me below or via social media.