Guest Blog: Shannon on How to Say No!
Blogger Biography: Shannon is a fun-loving, sarcastic, Florida girl, who met her military man during college. With a few years of marriage under their belt, Shannon and her husband navigate through deployments, PCS moves, and their goal of becoming debt-free with the perfect recipe of determination and a pinch of humor, topped off with a big glass of sweet tea and little dog slobber from their Labrador mix, Macy!
Blog Post: Military life is one-of-a-kind. There aren’t many other situations where you have mandatory fun, mandatory moves, and mandatory time away from family. Add countless friends, extended families, jobs, and extracurricular activities to the mix and it can become impossible to find that precious time for just you and your family to be together doing things you want to do.
As a newlywed, I was stressed to the max about how to make everyone happy – attending a wedding here, visiting for Christmas there, shopping with a friend today, hosting a baby shower tomorrow. Eventually, I had to learn how to say NO, and not worry that someone was taking it personally.
So how can you learn to say no? It’s very simple. Figure out what your boundaries are. Decide where to draw the line in the sand. To start building these boundaries and saying no, try these tips.
Make boundaries in the workplace. If you work outside of the home, making boundaries and saying no in the workplace are great ways to alleviate stress. Take scheduled, deliberate mental breaks during the day. Make it a point that there will be no “work talk” during your lunch hour. Make sure your work friends know your boundaries and are respectful of them. If they aren’t, take the opportunity to politely ask for some quiet time – or even explain why you’ve made these boundaries. They might be able to relate, and create some, too!
Make boundaries in relationships. In a military family, time is precious. Friends, family, and acquaintances know this, too. They often pull you in many directions to spend time with you and your service member, leaving you spread thin. Most times, they don’t realize that you may be running yourself into the ground to make all the birthday parties, Sunday dinners, band recitals, or soccer games. In my own relationships, one of the major boundaries I’ve laid out is regarding my time. My husband is my priority, and while we do try to be as involved as possible with our families and friends, it’s extremely important to us to make sure our time is well spent. Sometimes, you just have to say no to things, and be okay with it.
If you make plans for yourself, keep them. Whatever the plans are, you made them for a reason. Whether the plans are to be productive, to relax, or to have fun, completing those plans will bring you some form of happiness and satisfaction. So what happens when you make plans for yourself and someone else demands your time, or really needs you right then? Try to decide whether life will go on if you say no. Most times, it will. Make sure to keep your eye on the prize. Follow through with your plans. Sometimes people will be offended or upset. That’s okay.
Remember: it’s not personal. It’s just your time.
Using your time how you wish does not mean that you are an uptight, Type-A, and can’t-go-with-the-flow person. It simply means that you have created a boundary for yourself and your family. In the end, you’ll appreciate those who understand that your time is just as precious as theirs. Let’s face it: no one likes doing things out of guilt or feeling that they are offending someone if they say NO.
Drama is not allowed. Period. This is a boundary I have actively been working on in my own life. It’s important to decide what “drama” is necessary, and what it not. Family drama, your friend’s breakup, workplace gossip, playgroup pettiness – whatever it is, limit it. Make it a point to be on the same page as your spouse regarding what topics you will allow yourself to spend time on. You may even decide to stay neutral on all touchy topics – and that’s okay, too. You’d be surprised how stress-free your life becomes by deciding that you won’t stand for being caught in the middle of other people’s business.
Remember: it’s not personal. It’s just your soul and your stress level.
In my own life, I find it’s easy to balance my “drama-free boundary” with my obligations as a friend. It’s important to be understanding in those situations which do require a shoulder to cry on or an ear to listen. Since I control my time, it is rewarding for me to be able to devote time to being there for my friends or family in their time of need.
Hold down the fort. Figuratively. Once you’ve decided on and created your boundaries, make sure those “line-crossers” in your life know when they’re stepping over a line. Otherwise, they can’t respect the boundaries you’ve made. I find myself extremely stressed when someone chooses not to respect the line I’ve drawn in the sand. Most times, my reaction is to withdraw from the situation. If I let the perpetrator continue his or her actions, it causes physical and mental anxiety for me. So sometimes, I make certain boundaries for my health.
Once your lines are drawn, you’ll notice the people in your life who are the worst about respecting your boundaries are the ones with high levels of drama and stress, and time-management issues. Ironic?
Boundaries are important; they are necessary. Think about some boundaries for your own life and take notice of signs that others have drawn a line, too. When boundaries are defined and respected, you’re sure to find more peace in your life. And extra pep in your step.
Remember: it’s not personal. It’s your life!