Overly-busy women

Why can’t you say “NO”?

Personal note

It’s August, and miraculously enough, where I live we are having perfect convertible weather: temperatures in the high 70’s with a slight breeze, blue skies with puffy clouds. A great day for driving with the top down, letting the breeze ruffle your hair.

This weather, like the first crisp days of Fall, brings with it renewed ambition and exciting dreams.

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Bring a little peace into your life!

Why can’t you say “NO”?

I work with so many overly-busy women who are stressed beyond belief, yet they still find it difficult to say “no” to the demands that come to them from all sides.  Even when they are given permission, or even urged to say no to these demands by friends, family or managers, they still find it almost impossible to open their mouths and let this sound come out.

Why is this? Well, here’s one possible reason.

Fear of hurting the other person or being seen as “bad” or “selfish”:

I have noticed that people who are afraid of saying “no” are often also people who find it difficult to hear “no,” experiencing it as rejection of their person or the belittling of their request or taste.

So, they naturally assume that the other person will hear “no” in the same way.

Here are some tips to feeling comfortable with hearing that dreaded word: “no” often means “not now,” or “I have another commitment/emergency that I must handle at this time,” or “I don’t like that particular event/food/whatever – but I like you just fine.” It can also mean, “I wouldn’t spend time with you/do that for you if you were the last person on earth.” However, why not wait for more evidence before you assume that is the real meaning?

Don’t assume the “no” you hear is permanent; the same request made at another time might well bring a “yes.”

When you need to use the word (and you should), here are some guidelines:

Don’t assume the other person is as sensitive as you are about the situation. Do assume the other person is a mature adult who can tolerate the small frustration of hearing “no,” especially if the situation is made clear.

Say “no” to the request clearly, unemotionally, and, if possible, give the real reason. “I’m exhausted and really need to go to bed early. I’d love to spend some time with you when I can really relax and enjoy your company, but this just isn’t the time.”

Don’t give phony excuses – pleading a sprained ankle on which you can’t put weight will make you feel really foolish if you’re caught standing firmly on it at the local pizza parlor. “My grandmother is very sick and I must visit her” has been used too many times by pretenders to hold up without real evidence, and being found gleefully shopping later on not only undermines your honesty but also casts doubt on your ability to care about other people. When caught out in the lie, you’ll not only look foolish but the other person will feel hurt and irritated. It can be a relationship-ending move.

As for thinking you are selfish for saying “no”: Do remember, saying “no” can be a way of protecting your commitment to promises you have already made – to loved ones, to co-workers, or to clients … or even to yourself.

It has been said that “you can’t say ‘yes’ until you can say ‘no.’” When you agree, reluctantly, to do something or be somewhere when you’d really rather not, your mind will wander, your facial expression and your body will covertly signal that you are not there wholeheartedly. Do you think the other person doesn’t notice this?

Once people recognize you are willing to say “no” to things that don’t fit your agenda or your tastes, they will be secure in the knowledge that when you say “yes” it is really deeply sincere. What a compliment to the other person! Instead of coming across as selfish, you are establishing yourself as an honorable person, one who can be depended upon – in fact, a person of integrity.

Doesn’t that feel good?

The Confident Introvert

“What are they afraid of?” my department manager used to ask after meetings in which a number of department members sat, silent and resentful, while he was unaware that his habit of springing surprise agenda items and asking for an immediate decision was very upsetting to these talented, educated introverts. Understanding, appreciating and utilizing the skills of introversion are foreign ideas to some – even to introverts. Now you can read about it in
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Helping Heart-Wise Women

Heart—wise women are women who:

  • Have had a cardiac event of any kind, or
  • Know they have significant risk factors for cardiac disease.or
  • Are intelligent enough to know their stress-filled lives can kill them

Harried women are:

  • Overly-busy women who  can’t seem to find enough time to  exercise, meditate, and do all the things they know are good for them
  • Working women, women entrepreneurs, women with families, women being caretakers……
  • Just about every woman we know!

As a Certified Life Coach and teacher, I work with overly-busy women who are concerned about their hearts and who can’t find the time to relax or meditate because they believe they have “delegated everything they can delegate and let go of everything possible”.  I help them to shift their perspectives, identify hidden time-wasters, change habitual thoughts and actions that rob them of time, energy, and power,   and discover time for life-enhancing activities.

Looking for Time in the All the Wrong Places

Feeling rushed seems to be a by-product of modern life. We work to have a better life, but discover we have to spend time commuting to the home we were able to provide because of the job.  We take up activities to stay healthful and involved in life, then discover we have increased our commitments to the point where we no longer enjoy these “leisure” activities. We want to do a good job in every aspect of life: work, relationships, child-rearing, home care, and we feel buried in joyless responsibility.

Take time to go to a weekend meditation retreat?  You know it would be good for you, but if you can’t even find the time to sleep in a little later on a weekend, how could you possibly set aside two days of doing nothing?

Many of us keep looking for time in all the wrong places.  Such as, “After I’m through with work, and my commute, and my personal banking business, and my food shopping and meal preparation, and my commitment to other people   ….then I’ll have a little time to relax. And it never happens.

Don’t wait until everything else is done. There’ll never be anything left for you.  Do as personal money managers advise:  Pay yourself first. If possible, spend a few quiet moments at the start of the day meditating. You will start your day feeling more clear-headed about what you plan to accomplish.

Other ideas for managing your time better:

  1. Manage your transitions better. Enter every new task and encounter after you’ve spent a few minutes doing some deep breathing and clearing your mind.  Your loved ones, your boss, even your pets will thank you for being more relaxed
  2. Stress makes you stupid. Remember “Ready, Fire, Aim”?.  Slow down deliberately when starting a new task; write out a plan of what you are going to do (writing it forces you to slow down and think), even (heaven forbid!) read directions first.  The time you spend will be more than repaid by the time you save not having to go back and correct mistakes.
  3. Live in the present, not the past or future:  Rushing to an appointment, reviewing in your mind the coming topic, you park your car, slam the door, and walk away.  An hour later you search frantically for your car in the parking lot or on a city street because you can’t remember where you put it.  Stop when you leave your car, note small landmarks that will orient you, then walk to your appointment mindfully noting passersby and scenery.  You’ll arrive more refreshed and clear-headed, and you won’t  waste time searching for something that shouldn’t have been “lost”.
  4. Give up too much caretaking:  Unless you have a very young child or a helpless invalid in your life, you may be doing a lot more caretaking than is good for you…..or for the other person.. Son forgot his homework and wants you to deliver it to the school?  Maybe once, but after that he is responsible for the consequences of his behavior. Give up obsessing about the possible negative outcome of a friend’s behavior if you can do nothing about it.  The rule is: If you don’t have the authority to do something about it, don’t take the responsibility.

Following the above guidelines may not get you immediately to that two-day meditation retreat, but you’ll find you can create “islands of peace” in the middle of your chaotic days, and perhaps this will be the start of a new way to live, and to love your life.


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