Self-Care and Saying No
I should really change my blog to Thoughts From A Recovering Perfectionist. Back in the fall, there was a week where I broke my brain by doing too much. Partly because I said yes to a lot of things I didn't realize would happen in the same week. And partly because I'm a people pleaser, and guess what people pleasers do? They say yes.
I did three events that week that should have been a month apart. And one of them was my blog party, which I had been imagining and planning for years. Unfortunately, my party was the last thing scheduled that week and by the time it rolled around, I was exhausted. I had a panic attack a few hours before my party because I was tired and my house wasn't clean. The party ended up being fine. No one noticed my bathrooms weren't clean, or that I was a tiny bit disassociated, but I woke up the next morning with a red, hot, swollen, itchy rash on my spine.
Here's the thing, everything I said yes to that week, I wanted to do, but, turns out, it was more than I could handle, thus, spine rash. It's not like I'm constantly saying yes to things I don't want to do. It's that, and here's where the recovering perfectionist comes in, I don't know my limits, or rather, I don't respect my limits. I also have to keep in check my attraction to adrenaline and excitement. It's one of my favorite hiding places, see also: Ironman 70.3 Augusta.
Here's what I learned. I can't prioritize what I'm holding if I'm holding more than I can carry (I know, read that again). Here's a fun exercise. Pick up eight small items around your house and hold them in your hands - all of them. Now, without dropping them or setting them down, arrange them in order of importance. You can't. And neither can I.
For two weeks, I went HAM on self-care. I said no to everything. I thought, this will be easy, no one ever asks me for anything. Lolololol. In the first 24 hours, four people asked me to do things for them (*for free). I was like, ohhhhhh, now I see. Me the individual came first. If I had to drop something I consider self-care: yoga, meditation, exercise, the answer was no. Sound fun? It wasn't.
*You guys, you have to pay me to 'pick my brain'. You might be surprised to learn this, but lattes don't pay my mortgage, or more importantly, buy my dog's dementia medicine. Shout-out, Linda!
When the two weeks were over, I started saying yes again, but only after waiting 24 hours to respond (this is a new rule that I am very much enjoying). Around this time, I heard Oprah on Dear Sugar and Shonda Rhimes on Super Soul Conversations. They were both talking about how saying no is saying yes to yourself. Oprah said she keeps a list of times it felt good to say yes. When someone asks her to do something, she looks at that list and remembers how it felt in her body to say yes to something she wanted to do.
Because I do everything Oprah says, I made my own lists. I made one like hers, times it felt good to say yes, and a second list of times my instinct said no and my mouth said yes. Everything on the second list ended in disaster - broken contracts, unpaid invoices, unreturned emails, lost friendships - you know, fun stuff.
I'm saying no more often. I have a piece of paper with examples of how to say no taped above my desk. I still get excited and forget to wait 24 hours before responding, but I'm getting better. This is going to seem contradictory, but if you haven't read Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes, read it. And listen to those podcasts. Hashtag: Oprah2020. Hashtag: j/k. Hashtag: I'm kidding! Don't blow up my mentions.
Okay, here are the podcasts:
Dear Sugar: The Power Of No, Part 1 - Oprah Winfrey
Oprah's Super Soul Conversations: Changing Your Life By Saying Yes - Shonda Rhimes