There is deep value in saying no to invitations that distract you from the things that are most important to you. The other side of that coin, though, is thinking about when you choose to say yes.
In your life, I’m sure there are things that are automatic yesses for you – taking care of your family, making a living, showering, doing housework. But do these yesses include any kind of regular self-care or time to focus on your creative passions? This is an important question, and one which you might cringe to answer honestly.
I encounter many people, particularly the moms among us (ahem) who maintain that they simply don’t have time to devote to their passions, or even to regular self-care. They might get a massage every couple of months or so, or schedule a date night or workshop once in a blue moon. But they don’t have any time for themselves on a regular basis. This makes very little sense.
I mean, it makes sense in terms of how our culture is set up. But on the other hand, it’s kind of insane. When you refuse to say yes to filling your own cup, how long do you think you’ll be able to be of service to others before you collapse, or get sick, or freak out? How can you give from the heart when you’re full of resentment and exhaustion?
We are taught to be selfless, and give to others as a first priority. Often this behavior comes from a place of love, and it’s a beautiful ideal. But it involves a certain amount of self-sacrifice, which simply isn’t healthy. When you deny your own needs for long enough, existing on less sleep than your body would like, with a constant undercurrent of stress, you’ll begin to forget that you have needs – or desires. You don’t feel that you deserve time to yourself, or at least not until you finally cross off all the items on the ever-present to-do list.
If that time ever arrives, which it probably won’t, or if you get so run-down and sick that you simply have to take time out, you might not even know what to do with yourself. Why not avoid this situation altogether and decide to give yourself the gift of saying yes?
First, let go of all the responsibilities you’ve been holding onto, just for a few moments. It’s time to daydream. What would you most love to do, or to receive? Something that’s just for you. It could be a massage, or a walk on the beach, or a nap. Picture your ideal way of playing hooky from your life.
Next, find a way to make it happen. You’ll have to be brave. You might need to ask for help, like someone to watch the kids for a couple of hours or let the dogs out after work. You may need to say no to an invitation or request, or even to cancel one that you’ve already agreed to. Do it. Really.
You need this. You deserve it. Think of how hard you’ve been working, how much you’ve been doing for everyone you care about. It’s time for you to relax completely, until you look like a kitten on its back enjoying a peaceful snooze. Think about how you can get there, or at least how to get started. Take action to make it happen.
If you’re already doing pretty well with the self-care (go you!) or when you get to that point, start thinking bigger. What adventures are calling you? Are there workshops that would enrich your soul’s journey? Road trips where you could take photos or sketch trees or write poetry to your heart’s content? Do you long to go dancing, ride the ferris wheel, or sit in an outdoor cafe alone, reading a book? Say yes.
Say yes to yourself and your individuality. Embrace your unique desires for self-expression. Say yes to going out and seeing more of our big beautiful world.
The experiences you have will enrich your life and recharge your batteries. You’ll come back to your family or work or community refreshed and much more able to give freely. Taking time away makes you a better mom, partner, daughter, or friend.
Say yes to the longings you feel, even if it seems uncomfortable at first. Say yes to you!