Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

For Busy Moms, the Power of Saying No

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

For Busy Moms, the Power of Saying No

Article excerpt

One of my dearest friends asked a simple favor not too long ago.

She wanted to know if I would speak to her Girl Scout troop about my career or my background really anything I wanted to talk about that would inspire or educate a group of grade-school girls. It was not a big ask. It would probably take a couple of hours, including the commute. And this is a person I admire and care about. But, I was stretched thin with work, family and social obligations and adding even one more small thing to a crowded calendar felt daunting.

You've been in this spot before, haven't you? Caught in between the desire to say yes and the need to say no. There's a point in our lives when we spend considerable energy juggling other people's demands on our time. Before I had a chance to think too long about this particular request (and talk myself into it), I quickly said no.

I noticed my friend seemed a little surprised.

A few years ago, I found myself saying yes far too often. I was burned out on board meetings, volunteering, organizing and speaking at events. It drained my creative energy, which I needed for work. It took precious hours away from family. And I barely had time to see my closest friends. I remember telling a girlfriend that I wanted to drop out of everything.

"You need to exercise your 'no' muscle," she told me. What in the world did this mean? For women, in particular, who are socialized to be people pleasers, to avoid conflict and disappointing others, learning to say "no" without guilt is a skill that takes practice to develop. Ironically, it's an ability that we all mastered as toddlers. It takes years to erode that confidence and ease of saying no. You have to relearn how to draw a boundary between your needs and those of the rest of the world.

This is the technique that worked for me. My boss would hear me on the phone frequently trying to politely decline requests to speak to various groups or host their events. I am asked a couple of times a week, and every request feels important and worthy. …

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