Our daily lives are so full of should’ve and ought to, instead, how about we practice saying “no” when we want to rather than “yes” because we feel we should?
Here’s a couple of situational examples to express what I mean.
These are a huge waste of time – what with the scripts they have to follow, their determination not to hear you say “no” politely, but far more insidious is how they can take advantage of the old and lonely. I’ve spent a fair amount of time undoing ‘stuff’ that my mother has signed up for which she doesn’t really want and certainly doesn’t need. But she’s too polite, or she didn’t understand, or they persuaded her to take out a trial subscription which would be so easy to cancel (and oh how that isn’t true).
How? Just say “no” and “don’t call me again”, then put the phone down without waiting to hear any response. If they call again, say “I said don’t call me again”, and put that phone down – again – firmly. And don’t give it another thought. It’s your time and energy they are wasting and you’re worth more than that.
These are people – friends, family, colleagues, acquaintances even – who just use up all your time and energy. They hoover it up and leave you empty. Do they reciprocate? Do they offer anything in return? No … Now, what I’m not talking about is the to and fro of friendship, where there are times the support flows more in one direction than the other. But it’s important we recognise those people who you hear from only when they want or need something of you, who when you call for some help with a problem, the only problem which gets solved is theirs, by you, because they keep changing the subject back to themselves. Those people who ask for your help with a project, leave you to do all the work and then take all the kudos for themselves. C’mon, nice people out there, you know what I’m talking about.
How? Practice saying “no” and nothing more, just that one word. As the saying goes, no is a complete sentence. Because if you find yourself offering up an excuse, you’ll just be giving them an opening to work with, a way to wriggle round it and persuade you to say “yes” by removing your excuse. Don’t do that to yourself. If they press it, say “I’m afraid it just doesn’t work for me”. And stop there. Change the subject. Leave the room. End the call. Do whatever it takes and don’t feel bad. ‘Cos they won’t, they feel entirely guilt free about making use of your kindness, your time, your energy.
Now we get to the important one, the one that’s going to be hard.
Don’t sweat the small stuff
Small stuff – hard and important? Yes, because this one is going to require you to look at those things that cause you to fret, those things that you give head space to, that you agitate about, maybe even find you nagging at your loved ones. Yup, that small stuff. The stuff that really doesn’t matter a damn in the grand scheme of things. And I get that holding on to those things may be your way of feeling in control of a situation you are uncomfortable being in, but it actually doesn’t work … at all.
Despite the fretting, the agitating, the nagging, you’re still going to feel uncomfortable and you’ll not just be driving everyone around you crazy, you’re also going to find yourself looking for more silly things to “control”. The thing is, refusing to face the inevitable isn’t an act of courage, it’s avoidance. Plain and simple. Really and truly facing up to things is powerful. Because you stop giving it power … over you. And when you truly face up to the big stuff, when you genuinely accept it, when you act with grace in the face of inevitability, you won’t even think about sweating the small stuff, because it is just so utterly irrelevant.
How? Rather than fretting whether someone puts the milk in first or second, or how the dishwasher is loaded and hundred of other little things, work out what it is you’re avoiding and why. Then focus your energy on accepting it – or put your energy into changing it – and then you won’t give a damn about the small stuff. Trust me, you just won’t.
Get some help and support with this process if you need to. Just make sure you don’t practice avoidance any more.
© 2017 Caring Coaching
originally posted 21st February 2017