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Saying Yes When You Really Feel Like “Not Really”

I’d like to challenge you to examine the belief that saying yes to what you don’t want and no to what you do want is selfish.

This thought pattern is insidious and one that most contributes to chronic stress.

There are more demands on our time in 2016 than there ever were 10, 20, and 30 years ago for women.  How many Facebook event invites do you get each week? How many emails do you get each day?

It’s insane.  And impossible to keep up.  And, so stressful.  And, unnecessary.

As women, we thrive on multitasking and the sense of accomplishment we get from checking as many items off our to-do list each day.  But is this the life we truly want?

Are you passing up opportunities that you would love because you are too busy committing to things you don’t love?  Thinking that you would be selfish if you made your choices about how you spend your time based solely on what you most enjoy doing?

Then I challenge you to examine this belief, that your happiness comes at the expense of someone else’s, that if you don’t say yes to something you will hurt someone’s feelings, or cause harm in some way.  It simply isn’t true.

Here’s the truth, when we say yes to what we DO want and NO to what we don’t want, we become the best version of ourselves.  And being the best version of ourselves inspires those around us to be the best version of themselves.  We light the path for others.

If you need a mantra to help you with this, I love “I give my best, and leave the rest” (credit to Erin Strutland for this one).  Because to give your best, you must first start with yourself.

 

5 Ways to Survive the Holidays

wrapping paper messI am always amazed this time of year by just the sheer volume of things that must be done.  Shopping, wrapping gifts, baking, cooking, writing out/mailing cards, decorating, office parties, school pageants, pictures with Santa. And then there’s the stress of dealing with relatives that you may not get along with, like in-laws or ex spouses.  It’s really a wonder that most of us don’t pull the covers over our heads and sleep right through Christmas day.

But in the past few years I have breezed through the holiday season, enjoying every moment!  When I shifted my life a few years ago from stressed and overwhelmed to happy and peaceful, I got really clear on what I needed to do to not just survive the holidays but to thrive during my most favorite season.  Yes, it is possible.

Here’s my top 5 tips:

Get clear on what you really enjoy doing this time of year. Zero in on the top 4 or 5  activities or events that you really want to do or attend.  Think about which ones out of all the ones that you can do, that you really want to do.  Then say Yes to those events and give yourself permission to decline or say no to all the rest.  You can’t do it all and attempts to do so just leave you exhausted.

Shred your holiday ‘shoulds’. Don’t feel like decorating or sending Christmas cards but that voice in your head says, “yeah, but you really should do that stuff”?  Well this year say “no more!” to that voice.  Write down all the holiday things you feel you should be doing, but don’t really want to do.  Take that paper and shred it or toss it in the fireplace and burn it.

Let go of perfection.  I have a relative that used to host Thanksgiving every year.  If the gravy came out lumpy or the turkey a little dry, she would become so upset over it that she would get a migraine that put her in bed for days. This happened year after year.  She was so focused on her vision of holiday perfection (and what didn’t meet her high expectations) that she missed out on enjoying the company of her family and friends.  You find what you look for so look for those moments of happiness, joy and laughter.

Put self-care on your schedule. Take out your calendar or daily planner.  Look to see where you can schedule in time for a massage, meeting a friend for a cup of tea or glass of wine, or getting outside and going for a walk.  If your schedule is really tight, aim for 5 minutes each day of self-care.  Think of all the things you could do for 5 minutes that wold leave you feeling refreshed and accomplished.  You could meditate, practice mindfulness, go for a walk, read a book, do some stretching, listen to music, make yourself a cup of tea and sit and enjoy it.

Have a plan.  Go into a stressful holiday situation with some thought as to how you will respond to drama or negativity.  You might not get to choose your circumstance but you do get to choose how you respond to it.  You may decide to walk away or use a breathing technique to help you through it.  Try to remember that everyone is on their own journey, they might not be at the same place that  you are at in your journey and that is ok.  Resist the urge to judge, and choose the best course of action for yourself.