Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Learning to Say NO...

As I have continued to tackle my lists, I've noticed that several of the list items would have been readily resolved had I said NO to begin with.  While it's never a popular answer, I think people would appreciate my honesty and my being upfront than being strung along.  I have a problem with wanting to make everyone happy and even when it goes against my gut, to try and accommodate the needs of others.

Part of this I think stems from my (half) Asian roots and my rearing in the South.  It's a mix of good old-fashioned Southern Hospitality and the desire to honor one's guests.  There are certain rules about how to be both a good host and a good guest and I think a lot of these guides translate to my everyday life.  I can't stand the thought of someone coming to my house and leaving hungry or the idea that a gift isn't thoroughly analyzed for maximum happiness factor.  Or when you go to someone's house, to always bring an appropriate gift and never come empty-handed.  When serving guests, as the host, one must go last... making sure that everyone has gotten their generous share first.  Cautionary Greek myths about hosts spurning their guests have been burnt into my brain.  You never know when a god might be disguised as your next dinner party attendee.  So it's always best to err on the side of caution and be the most accommodating as possible!  These sensibilities were further enhanced by years of working in the service industry.  It's ingrained that you must bend over backwards to provide the best customer service and all-around experience as possible.  If the patron doesn't leave absolutely happy, you've not done your job to the fullest extent.

I think  another layer of my inability to say "no" comes from working in freelance.  As a freelancer, I feel you have to dig a lot of trenches that connect into your main goal.  Hopefully all the little trickles add up and are enough to keep the creative ship afloat.  Often times, the trenches lay dry and result in nothing.  You end up sowing a lot of ideas and proposals with only a few actually taking root, growing and developing.

While there are certainly virtues attributed to this mindset, it's easy to take on too much.  Days go by when I feel like I've been spread too thin.  I want to be everything for everyone and it's easy to lose sight of oneself and of the priorities.

So as I continue to work through my lists, I must go forward knowing my own dispositions and be more discriminating and judicious in the things that I agree to.  And most importantly, to trust my gut when it warns me against taking on a project that doesn't feel right.  I think that this will allow me to focus on the things that are important to me and help me prioritize.


Spirited Earth said...

oh you are so right about learning to say No...nicely,kindly, but no thanks..
I err by jumping to answer right away, rather than take the time to check in with my would be much better if i could say "please let me take some time to think about this"

Gaea said...

So true and said so well! I think we are having a mind meld! AH! And taking time to think is excellent, Spirited Earth! Why do we always feel so pressured to answer at that moment! : )

jelveh Designs said...
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jelveh Designs said...

I so identify with this post, I too have an issue saying no...all matter aside, your post brings up a great point that I think its lost in the general terms, I too was raised in a different culture until I was 14, as a Persian it is pretty much my duty to say yes to all my friends and family needs, making sure they dont leave my house hungry or meeting all of their needs, is ingrained in my soul...I find this is not so understood by most, since many people do not have this Pleasing Bone in their system, it can be considered fake or unwanted by some...course my closest of family and friends understand that is just the way I am...
I am now in the process of learning to say no, as nicely as I can...
love the post

TesoriTrovati said...

Amen! I remember very vividly being the person who could not say No. Sometimes that habit comes back hard, so I completely understand. I was asked by my priest in the mid 90s to join yet another board, one that would be very high profile and require a lot of work. I remember that there as anguish in my soul (and likely on my face) as he asked this of me. But before I could answer, he stopped me and told me that it was okay to say no. It stopped me in my tracks. And it happened to be the best gift he could have given me. I still remember that when I am faced with a yes moment. It is okay to say no. Boundaries are good and are necessary. You need them in order to thrive. After all, if there were no boxes how would we ever begin to think outside of one? Bravo for realizing this. And thanks for giving me something to think about.
Enjoy the day!
P.S. I don't know if I told you with all the traveling and baseball miles that I have been putting on, but I got the nicest package last week! Filled with so many wonders and treasures. I keep oohing and aahing all over them especially the things that I know you included from your own hand. You really didn't have to do that, but I feel very blessed that you did. Thank you, Andrew!