Dr. Amy Cannatta and I are collaborating in a multi-installment series on saying no and finding balance. One of the ways to do this is to know when to delegate and ask for help. Which is WHY this post can be published while I (Sam) am on vacation–Amy and I are truly partnering and respectful of how much we both have going on. She was able to send me her intro to go live while I’m at the beach. Now THAT is balance!
Amy and I were colleagues at W by Worth and became fast friends. While she loves fashion, her true passion is her chiropractic practice and coaching people to wellness and success. She is the best-selling author of “Pursepective: From Ruin to Resilience” (available for purchase via the photo below), a great sounding board, and a valued member of my tribe.
Amy Cannatta, entrepreneur, writer, and overwhelmed just like YOU
I have to preface this article that this is not a male bashing, women’s lib blog post. This first article by me is to shed light on the physical manifestations that saying YES to everyone and everything will do to you.
So here we are. The Gen X’rs. Caught between the Baby Boomers and the Millennials. Caught in a generation of trying to HAVE more, BE more, and DO more than our parents while trying to provide more for our kids. Stretched between taking care of two generations and caught in the middle and running ourselves ragged.
The truth is, I’ve been curious about this. Am I the only one suffering with this feeling? Are there more of us out there trying to juggle it all with more and more being piled on everyday while trying to find this elusive BALANCE everyone is talking about while being “in the flow”.
What do I do when I’m curious about something? I reach out to a trusted girlfriend to keep me in check who , in this case, is Sam Ditka of Moxie Mama. I couldn’t think of anyone better to “give it to me straight.”
Sam and I found ourselves in the middle of a conversation about feeling overwhelmed, people asking us to do more stuff (which we love both love doing) and having trouble saying NO to people. Then in the middle of our conversation, there was dead silence. We were both thinking the same thing, “What if there are more of us out there who feel the same way but are too afraid to talk about it?” “What if, even talking about it and admitting it to ourselves makes us feel guilty and like bad people?”
That’s when we realized we were tired of lifting up the rug to shove it under and decided to face this topic head on. So we are calling BS and a time out on all of it while we figure it out, together.
And, by no coincidence, that was when Jane entered my chiropractic office.
“Hi Jane, Welcome to my office! It’s really nice to meet you! What brings you in today?”
“Well, I’ve been having this constant neck pain for the past 5-10 years that comes and goes but never really goes away. It’s like it’s never really gone it just fluctuates between a dull, everyday “normal” pain and like a 7/10 on the pain scale. Sometimes I get headaches and can feel the muscles in my neck are tight. Sometimes it gets so bad that my fingers go numb and the pain goes down my arm.”
After a series of questions I ask her the one that really hits home, “Jane, are you under a lot of stress?”
Silence, then tears. Her eyes meeting mine as if to say to me, “FINALLY, someone noticed my pain and is listening.” It was as if she was waiting desperately for someone, anyone to ask her if she was ok.
That’s when the real source of her pain came out.
“Oh my God, yes. I am working like crazy, juggling my kids’ sports schedules, volunteering on the PTA, worried about my mom who’s health is declining and what I am going to do about that. My husband and I aren’t getting along too well because I’m so stressed and working so much and I haven’t been able to keep up with my house. I don’t take of myself because I don’t have time in my schedule of taking care of everything else. And on top of it, my family doesn’t even offer to help, ask me how I am doing, or notice that I’m on the verge of completely cracking. It’s like it’s all just expected.”
You are Jane and so am I.
This is what happens to us when we don’t set up healthy boundaries for ourselves. Our physical bodies begin to cry out with warning signs that we also potentially ignore until the signs get so unbearable, or worse, life threatening. There are signs of our lifestyles. Lifestyles that we have chosen by design and our choices.
Yes, I said it. Our own choices. All because we kept saying YES when we really wanted to say NO.
We kept saying YES when:
- Our kids asked us if they could join another activity or do another sport.
- Our boss asked us to work extra hours or travel unexpectedly
- Our parents asked for help because they are getting older and have health issues of their own.
- Our friends asked us to volunteer or be on the board of a charity because, “you’d be perfect for it” and you couldn’t turn down the prestige or opportunity.
- Our spouse expects us to behave like 1950’s housewives (no offense)
- And the list goes on….
And what gets put on the back burner?
- Our health
- Exercise (who has time?)
- Our sanity
- Our dreams, goals, and aspirations like learning dance, writing a book, taking painting lessons (who has time and then there’s the guilt of doing something for ourselves)
We’re so worried and caught up in being the Enjoli woman, that we forgot ourselves. All because when asked, “Hey, Can you do this for me?” we are conditioned to saying YES. Why? Because of course we can! We are a generation of highly capable, highly intelligent women. So our knee jerk reaction is to say YES!
With all of this being said, I have a proposal for you.
Let’s make a pact to start by saying, “Let me think about it and get back to you.” or “Let me see if it fits in my schedule.” Or a HARD NO if the situation calls for it.
Setting boundaries and saying NO isn’t about being selfish. It’s about loving yourself and caring for yourself so that you don’t allow yourself to get run into the ground.
If saying NO is hard for you, then practice learning to say, “Let me think about it.” until it rolls easily off your tongue with NO GUILT. Repeat it over and over and over again until it becomes second nature.
This is a journey that I, myself, and presently on arm in arm with you. Please feel free to share your thoughts with me as we openly discuss the topic of boundaries, balance and avoiding burn out.