I want a lot from life, and I’m more than willing to put in the work. Along the way, it’s been a bumpy ride.
My article, A Life Equation, from May 2016 describes my long-held method of finding balance: I add to my schedule. I take on more responsibilities. I pressure myself for better performance. I’ve tried to do it all and at lightning speed. This drive to perform does not arise from impatience with the world around me. It comes from my self-judgement and self-doubt. (Read My Own Worst Critic here.)
In early 2017, I lost a lot of what I had come to love in my life and sank into a deep depression (more on that next week). I was injured and ended up dropping out of school (again) and leaving work. Those factors snowballed into a couple stressful and haphazard moves from the apartment I had loved living in for two years. I was without Henry , my beloved VW, for a few months because I couldn’t afford to repair him. The losses piled up.
As I got back on my feet six months later, I threw myself — albeit wobbly- legged — right back into my life of more, more, and more. I worked as much as I could, trained jiu-jitsu as much as I could, practiced yoga as much as I could, volunteered as much as I could, and re-enrolled in full-time classes.
I kept adding and adding, but never felt any relief or sense of peace. I only felt tired, inadequate, ineffective, and chronically behind schedule.
I’m finally learning to let go as a part of finding balance. An acquaintance in a networking group I’ve recently joined cited “knowing when to say no” as the key to his success. I’ve heard that saying before, but it was this last time that I really took it to heart.
It wasn’t how much I had been doing before my injury last year that helped me feel good. Yes, I had a lot going on, but the deciding factor had been the sense that I felt successful in my endeavors.
Despite my return to the activities I craved, and the fact that I find each of them worthy undertakings, I had spread myself too thin. Something had to give, and I decided that this time it wouldn’t be me.
Operation: Say No
I’ve started saying no to everything I can bring myself to let go. Though I love those relinquished projects and groups on their own merit, I had to ask myself what I love the most. The answers I found were: completing my degree, maintaining my health, teaching yoga, and writing.
I’ve said no to a few volunteer projects. I’ve said no to extra hours at work that would have left me stressed for time to complete writing or homework. I’ve said no to outings that would have been fun, but not as fun as my health- supporting activities like yoga and jiu-jitsu.
Most important, I said no to the breakneck speed I had thought I needed.
When Do You Say “No”?
This practice of saying “no” more often is only a few weeks old for me, but I’m optimistic.
Where have you learned to say “no”? I’d love to hear about the nerve-racking times you’ve reduced your commitment to others and ended up doing better.
Rebecca encourages survivors of domestic to speak about their experiences and to lean on each other for support.