Prioritizing Your Time and Energy: The Art of Saying No

Serving others, lending a hand, helping out: This seems to have been ingrained in our DNA. We offer our time, energy, attention, and advice. We have been conditioned into “yes men”, taught at a young age to be kind and perform good deeds. This is essential and also the easiest way to spread love throughout the world, but “yes” can be overwhelming as well. Saying yes every time can become mentally and emotionally draining, wreaking havoc on our health and happiness.

The problem isn’t saying yes, it is saying yes to the wrong things. In an instant we agree to tasks that don’t fall in line with what we view as valuable, working hard and essentially wasting time. Time we could be spending on meaningful and engaging actions that run parallel with our own purpose, values, and beliefs. We are productive, but productivity in the wrong direction is a dead end street.

I for one fell into the “yes man” trap for a majority of my life. I still find myself there from time to time. My purpose is to serve others, making their lives better. I loved being the person people could rely on, dropping things in an instant to lend a hand. I tried to always come through in the clutch. There can’t be any harm in that right? Wrong.

I was in over my head, trying to come up for air. My daily actions were consumed by others tasks, my thoughts were consumed by others voices. I was saying no to myself without intending to do so, losing myself in the process. While my purpose in life is to serve others, I was taking the wrong approach, over-operating and completing other people’s purposes. I needed to take a step back, take a deep breath, and serve myself first. I re-figured my values, started saying no to the right things (very awkwardly at first, but I embrace awkward situations luckily), and prioritized my own mental and emotional health so I could then use positive energy to create a more productive version of myself.

Saying no is scary. We have to let down our boss, coworkers, family members, or friends. It is not our purpose to please everyone. We deserve to be selfish, to serve ourselves so we can then better serve others. We have to switch the mindset, start using our values and beliefs as a filter to challenge our decision making. Understanding that sometimes saying no to others means saying yes to our own purpose and goals. By saying no, we create time and energy to complete the tasks that will improve ourselves. We build confidence, take control of our lives, set boundaries, gain self-respect, and learn to prioritize our own health and well-being.

Be brave and give yourself permission to say no without feeling guilt and the need to explain yourself. It can change your life.

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