I fit a ton into my day, probably more than I should—my time management skills are on point. Even with this talent there are still some days I find myself exhausted. Being productive might have felt good but it’s left me physically, mentally, and emotionally drained. This is one extremely common fault in the person who wants to help everyone.

There’s a myth in our culture implying that the answer is always “yes” when it comes to making someone happy. The average kind and sincere person sets out with the best of intentions. The problem starts when the “yes” person bites off more than they can chew. Sound familiar?

As selfish as it may sound, to be there for other people you need to be there for yourself first. And in these situations, you’re often the last person you think about!

I remember how liberating it was the first time I said “no” to something. Or better yet, hell no, I’m doing “x” instead (FYI, a common phrase on the days I snowboard). Setting boundaries like saying “no” isn’t just liberating, it’s down right compassionate. Not just to yourself, but to the other person as well.

In the past I’ve found myself in situations where I couldn’t dedicate myself entirely. The motive to help was there, but I wasn’t able to fully commit and ultimately didn’t do what I was capable of. Although I may have helped that person to some degree, there’s a part of me that felt I let them down.

Considering saying “NO” to someone (or something?) here’s a few things to ask yourself:

  • Can I help while respecting my own boundaries?
  • What’s the reasonable alternative?
  • Is this at someone else’s expense?
  • Is this my responsibility?
  • Can I commit fully?

I think the reason saying “no” seems so terrifying is the fear of how someone else’s reaction. Surprisingly, most people are very understanding and even respect you more for being upfront. And those who don’t probably won’t be happy with the outcome regardless. Be strong in your values and never feel the need to sacrifice yourself in order to people please.

It’s not selfish to say “no,” in fact, you need to be there for yourself too. When you show this respect to yourself it creates space for you to be compassionate with others.

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