When you’re super busy and have no time, it’s tempting to point to all the people and things that use up your bandwidth (time, energy, effort and emotions). These appear to be the culprit of feeling overcommitted, overloaded, overwhelmed, anxious, resentful and the like. But… for all of this stuff to be in your schedule or on your to-do list, or draining you, you:

  • Said yes
  • Didn’t yes but also didn’t say no or make clear what is and isn’t possible
  • Went along with things
  • Didn’t check your diary
  • Didn’t check in with your body or what was going on in your life to see if it was a fit
  • Put it on the list
  • Didn’t delegate
  • Don’t typically ask for help or admit when you’re struggling
  • Took on something you didn’t need, want or have to do
  • Agreed because it felt good at that moment
  • Told yourself that you had to do it
  • Didn’t communicate your needs and wants
  • Had unrealistic expectations of yourself
  • Maybe tried to be all things to all people
  • Maybe wanted to look like a certain type of person
  • Were afraid of conflict, criticism or rejection about something
  • Have an unrealistic perception of how long things take
  • Didn’t query it
  • Don’t even give you a passing thought when you say yes and only consider the consequences and meaning afterwards.

When I’m mentally (and sometimes outwardly) totting up and venting my frustrations and resentment about how little time I have or how much stuff I have to do, or side-eyeing my husband, kids, the dog, extended family, customers/clients, friends, readers/listeners or that person I agreed to do a favour for because my mama commandeered me into something because she seems to think I’m a fountain of knowledge because “[I] work on computers and on the internet”, I forget a simple (but sometimes annoying) truth:

If something’s in my calendar or on my to-do list, it’s because I agreed to it or put it there. And so have you.

Don’t get me wrong–people do ask for things (or demand) and assume. But people know the line and what is and isn’t permissible when you know it.

If you feel overwhelmed, burdened, overloaded, frustrated, resentful, obliged, victimised, irritated, taken advantage of, overlooked, guilty, anxious, fuming and more, pause. Write out your to-do list or look at your schedule and acknowledge what needs to go. Or, write down the reasons why they’re on the list so that you can get to an honest and boundaried place and make more mindful choices.

Are you ready to stop silencing and hiding yourself in an attempt to ‘please’ or protect yourself from others? My book, The Joy of Saying No: A Simple Plan to Stop People Pleasing, Reclaim Boundaries, and Say Yes to the Life You Want (Harper Horizon), is out now.

The Joy of Saying No by Natalie Lue book cover. Subtitle: A simple plan to stop people pleasing, reclaim boundaries, and say yes to the life you want.
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