Today’s topic comes from some questions I received in The Life Coaching Spot private Facebook group: “How can I think of expanding and taking on more when my life is already so full?” I love this emotion because it’s so true. If you already feel overloaded, then the thought of expanding and taking on more sounds exhausting!
To be honest, I used to be quite the people pleaser. Basically, I wanted people to like me, so I went out of my way to please others. This tendency was the primary reason for much of the stress in my life. Let’s face it, it’s stressful to feel like your job is to make everyone else happy. The truth that I learned much later in life is that it’s not my job to make everyone else happy.
So the first thing I did to turn my whole life around was to begin to say “NO”. I did this out of necessity because things had gotten so far out of hand I literally HAD to start saying no because I just couldn’t do any more. This was very hard for me to do at first because it meant I was going to disappoint people. But I did it anyway. And the thing I noticed is that each time I said no, even though it was hard, I felt a little bit lighter. And I also noticed it wasn’t the end of the world for people and they seemed to get over their disappointment eventually.
One of the things I came to realize is that I had trained everyone around me to expect I would just do everything so of course, they came to expect it (remember, we make our own reality). They didn’t appreciate whatever it was I was doing, they just expected I would do it. I had set the bar for my performance so high, it just wasn’t sustainable. And on top of that, I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t being appreciated for all I was doing. But let me tell ya, when I stopped and started saying no…they noticed.
But here’s the thing, you don’t have to wait until you’re forced to say no to things. Life is much easier when you consciously choose to learn how to say no without feeling bad about it.
Maybe you have a hard time saying no, for whatever reason: Maybe you feel obligated, maybe you feel like no one else will do it as well or as thoughtfully as you, maybe your self-worth is all tied up in pleasing others. I had all those things going on at once. Whatever your obstacle is… this is my challenge for you that could be quite enlightening and could actually change your life for the better.
Choose three areas of focus for your life and practice saying no to any new thing that comes along that is not adding to those three areas of focus.
Rob Bell talks about saying no so you can say yes. I love this framing because you are not really saying no at all but rather, by saying no to things not in your areas of focus, you are offering a bigger yes to those things that are most important to you right now.
For instance, if you already have a full meal of delicious Italian food, you are not going to add some tamales and eggrolls to your plate without consequences, like indigestion!
So, if someone makes a request of you that is outside of your areas of focus… practice just graciously declining the request. Whatever it is, big or small. Believe it or not, there are other people out there who can and will do the thing for that person…even if it seems like the world will all fall apart without you doing the thing.
Now, this not going to be easy at first, so take it slow. One no in a week may be all you can muster for now…
And for each “no” you practice, I want you to make some space for whatever feelings come up. Could be guilt, fear, shame…. Just allow it come up and notice what’s there. Sit with the feeling. Maybe say to yourself, some part of me is feeling really guilty for not saying yes. And send that part of you some love.
Allowing these feelings to come up will help you to see what has been in the driver’s seat of your life’s journey. Who has been driving? Because if fear or guilt has been driving, I can almost guarantee that you don’t want to go where they are taking you.
To land in your best life, you KNOW who needs to be in the driver’s seat! I know you know! Love, passion, inspiration. That’s who!!!
So this is an example of how you can shift your life from feeling hard and stressful to having a life you truly want to wake up to everyday.
Taking this process in bite sized pieces is best. Too much too fast might make you frustrated and tempt you to quit. But trust me, over time you will have more and more of what you want in your life and your areas of focus and less of what you do not. Without the guilt!!! Depending on where you are standing now, that may seem impossible, but it’s more than possible if you are willing to put one foot in front of the other and just practice with the next opportunity, and then the next, and so on.
Now, you may be so stuck right now that you don’t have any idea where to begin. Or maybe you feel like you need a coach at your side for the first few steps. If so, I want to invite you to reach out to me to schedule a free 30 minute call to see if coaching is for you. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can sign up for a time directly on my website at thelifecoachingspot.com. Let’s get you unstuck and on your way!
By the way, I have a monthly drawing for a free 45-minute coaching session with me. All you have to do is fill out this short survey here that offers me blogpost/podcast ideas that are relevant for you! All answers are confidential.