Say Yes to No

There's something very liberating yet controversial about the word "no." Unlike the word "yes," "no" has a literal negative connotation and can often be misconstrued and misinterpreted—depending on the situation—as being rude. If someone asks you to lunch or dinner, even though you don't really want to see them past that initial handshake, you say "yes" right? Saying "no" will more than likely come with an eyebrow raise and an awkward "OK, well ... you have yourself a great life" (No joke, I've actually heard someone say that before, after an awkward first meet and greet).

My problem with saying "yes" all the time stemmed from a constant need to people please and not disappoint. I would worry that I'd miss out on something or that saying "no" meant that I didn't care for the person's needs. The other part of me that wanted to say "no" wanted to also just stay home. Like, do absolutely nothing. I was tired. Simple and easy excuse right? Not necessarily. Try telling someone that you don't want to do something because you're simply tired. You're often met with a quick "Psshht, what are you? Grandma status?" To which I never really understood because my grandmother birthed and raised six kids. She was also an active member of her church, began her career in the military after her kids grew up, and still managed to babysit and take care of her 11 grandchildren. If anyone compares me to my grandmother, I often take it as a compliment.

Anyway—sidetracked for a bit—I wanted to bring this topic up because I am often met with lots of opportunities to say "yes." Born and raised here in Hawai'i, I'm lucky to have most of my family and close friends living here. With that comes with many birthday celebrations, baby showers, engagement parties and pau hanas; top it off with job opportunities and meetings with potential clients and I've got myself a big 'ol party mix of promised plans. One time, in a single day, I had plans to teach yoga in the morning, tutor the rest of the day, conduct two client meetings for a story, shop for a friend's birthday present, attend a pau hana with some friends then show-face at a client late night party. I gotta be honest, I didn't show up to the latter half of that day because I was simply tired. However I lied and said that I wasn't feeling well. That I was coming down with a cold. It's funny how I was uncomfortable telling them that I was just too dang tired from the day. The word "tired" just didn't seem like a good enough excuse.

I'm not saying don't go to your best friend's baby shower or your cousin's bachelorette party. Those are epic engagements that you cannot really say no to, or at least ones that I wouldn't decline (I'd probably offer to help organize the event). But if you notice that your week is looking like a highlighter party fight within your planner book, ask yourself these questions first before you decide on saying yes to stretching yourself a little bit more:

1) Will they really notice if I'm there?

I have this problem of thinking that I'll be disappointing someone if I don't show up to their party. Trust me, they'll live without your presence. I think it's an ego thing, too. I would think "so and so will be so sad if I don't show up." Not saying so-and-so wouldn't be sad that I'm not there, but it's not the end of the world. Of course if you've already RSVP'ed, and they're expecting you to be a part of the beer pong challenge finale then maybe you better show up. But in reality there will be other times, other events to engage in. And those times you'll be more relaxed and not worried so much about the time or the crazy day that you just had prior.

2) Am I lazy or just tired?

There's a difference between the two. Lazy means you're more than capable of doing a task or attending something that you've promised you'd attend but you decide to wash your hair instead. Tired means you've had a long-ass day and your presence to the event may make you resent yourself or (worse yet) the person whom you're doing the favor in attending.

3) Would I ask a friend of mine to go if they're feeling this burnt out?

I forget sometimes that my wants and needs are just as valid as anyone else. I wouldn't expect a friend of mine to follow through with their "yes" if it meant a further burden on themselves and their "to-do" list. I'd tell them to just rest and take care, and that there's always a next time when they're feeling better. Same feelings and expectations should be applied to our own selves. Self care and love is just as important as the love and care given to your friends and family members.

Easier said then done, of course, as I just had a full day of "yes" last week with teaching yoga in the morning, tutoring throughout the day, attended a rescheduled Dr. appointment, dropped my parents off at the airport then rushed to a family dinner. The point that I'm making is that I'm more aware and conscious in picking and choosing my "yes" answers than my "no." Like always, everything in moderation. Just ask yourself if you're burnt out. And, if anything, you are more than likely burnt out if you have to ask yourself that very question. Good rule of thumb: treat yourself how you usually treat other people. Nobody's perfect and it's OK to just say "no."

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