Half of the troubles of this life can be traced to saying yes too quickly and not saying no soon enough. – Josh Billings.
(This is the fourth in an 8-part guest series by Sarah Novak titled “Why Catastrophe ROCKS! An 8-part Series on How to Use Adversity to Your Advantage.” Pic: http://bridgethaymond.com)
Over the course of this series we’ve explored why adversity happens and what an empowered response to it looks like.
Last week we began discussing the benefits of adversity. Today I’d like to continue that conversation by focusing on one of my favorite upsides to adversity: improved boundary setting. I think we all have an idea of what boundaries are, but what we don’t often realize is how little time we spend setting and enforcing them.
When catastrophe happens, the result is often a reduction in our available time or energy (ie: we spend more time worrying/problem solving or illness drains our physical energy).
This decrease in time and energy FORCES us to re-evaluate what’s on our plate (and often make radical changes for the better).
We are a society of YES people.
Not only have we been taught that it’s rude to say no, we’ve also been conditioned from an early age to believe that the more we complete in a given day, the more successful and important we are. What this has created is a society of over-stressed, under-rested individuals who race around from dawn to dusk checking off a to-do list of things that have zero importance to them.
Want a recipe for burnout and illness?
It becomes so easy to buy into this way of life as the norm that we often forget that we do actually have the choice to say no!
Adversity presents us with the opportunity to take stock of our commitments and assess which actually have meaning to us (and which we’re simply doing out of default or obligation).
Learn Your Limits.
So how does one go about setting boundaries if you’ve been doing a sub-par job of it in the past?
The key is to start by determining your capacity. Look to your physical body to give you signs of this. Headaches, fatigue and tense muscles can all be signs that you’re trying to do too much in a day.
Conversely, notice the days when you feel alive and energized – there’s a good chance that those days have the perfect amount of activity in them. Granted, this is a process of trial and error, but over time you will get clues if you stay aware of your body’s physical response to your choices.
One of the common myths we buy into is that everything on our to-do list is VITAL.
This stems out of that societal belief I mentioned above that being busy means we’re successful and important. We’re scared to death of reducing our to-do list for fear it will jeopardize our “status” in our workplace, family or peer groups.
In reality, very little of what’s on our list is of critical importance, we simply create beliefs that make it seem so.
In choosing to bring more fulfillment and ease into our life, we must not only re-evaluate what we’re currently committed to, but also be willing to say no.
How to Decide What’s Important.
It can be quite overwhelming to sort out which commitments should stay versus go. The easiest way to evaluate is to look at whether the commitment honors your core values.
For example, if you have a high value around freedom, then travel is something you should continue to spend your time on. If you thrive on deep connection, then you should keep investing your time setting up social outings with friends.
If a commitment drains your energy or feels like something you SHOULD do (instead of want to do), that’s probably a great indicator that it needs to go.
I recognize that letting go of to-do’s can feel downright scary to type-A individuals who take great comfort in control.
If that’s you, remind yourself that BY SAYING NO TO THIS COMMITMENT, YOU WILL HAVE MORE TIME TO SAY YES TO SOMETHING THAT REALLY MATTERS TO YOU!
I’m not going to lie, boundary setting is one of the hardest things to do BUT it also has the potential to bring the greatest rewards.
You see, when we spend our day taking action that aligns with the things that are most important to us, we naturally live from a place of aliveness and fulfillment.
And at the end of the day, aligning our being and doing is what provides the best recipe for long-term success!
I’d love to hear from you in the comments below! Where do you notice that you have the most difficulty setting boundaries and saying no in your life? Thanks for reading + sharing this post!
As a Cancer Coach, Sarah Novak is committed to helping female cancer survivors use their experience as a catalyst for transformation in their lives. Although we cannot control our circumstances, we CAN always decide how we choose to be with our reality.
Check out www.coachsarahnovak.com to learn about her private and group coaching programs + receive her free guide: “Coping with the Everyday Fears of Cancer: How to Minimize Fear and Anxiety by Transforming Your Thoughts.”
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