Women are Earth personalities. What does that mean? According to Ancient Chinese Medicine and the Theory of the Five Elements, women do for others before they do for themselves. The lunches are made, the laundry is done, the lawn is mowed, the homework is checked, the refrigerator is stocked, the trash is emptied, and the dog’s walked. A simple checklist of everything for everybody, except oneself…and that is why a woman is ‘earthy.’ In nursing, it is clear. The nurse cares for others before caring for him/herself. The nurse always says, ‘Yes’ to the extra shift, overtime, assisting peers. The nurse probably also says, ‘Yes’ to the relative in need of a place to stay, some money to tide him over, a friend in need of a ride, or a child in need of a hug.
Everybody knows someone who has asked, and to whom we just cannot say, ‘No.’ In B is for Balance, I address why it is okay to say, ‘No’ and the fact that ‘No is a complete sentence.’ It does not require justification, excuses, reasons, or supporting documentation. It is simply a ‘No.’
It is essential to set boundaries in your personal and professional life. How does one begin?
- Identify your limits (know what makes you stressed and uncomfortable
- Pay attention to your feelings
- Give yourself permission
- Consider your environment
Like you, I probably said, ‘Yes’ much too often. I was the one I just described. I worked the extra hours. I took home the assignment that was due the next day. I stayed late to help my peers. I went out at 11pm to Walmart in search of a lunchbox for a visiting grandchild. I returned the books to the library, completed the website revisions, led the project team, and…I was known as the ‘finisher.’ My former boss often referred to me in that way to describe the fact that I left nothing undone, and I could be counted on to get the job done…no matter what it might take in terms of time, money, energy, spirit.
And what did I get in return? I had great satisfaction in the fact that my work was complete, required little change, was timely, and that I could be counted on. I loved that feeling, and I loved helping others. But, one day I realized that I could no longer work 100-hour weeks and that I could no longer be the only one on a project team completing the project. I realized that I had no time for myself, for my family, and for the life that I wanted to live. I needed to set boundaries!
Now, I regret the times when I failed to say no just because of peer pressure. Let’s learn to face the music here: saying yes to everyone is stressful. It’s selfish. And it’s definitely not good for your mental, physical and spiritual health!
My friend, it’s time you start saying no. No to people you don’t like, no to parties you don’t even fancy and certainly no to activities that don’t make you a better person.
How does one escape a trap that one has built? How does one shift the mindset to learn to say, ‘No.’ Go ahead and say no, because:
You don’t owe anybody anything.
- You can never control everybody’s opinion of you.
- You’re the only one who can really identify your priorities in life.
- You’re your number one citizen.
- Life moves on.
The Disease to Please
Millions of people suffer from what author/psychologist Harriet Braiker describes in her book of the same name. These ‘people-pleasers’ think that they are making others happy, when they are actually making themselves miserable. Saying ‘No’ is a generous thing to do…it frees us from making a shallow commitment and ensures that when we do say ‘Yes’ – our heart is in it!
So where do we begin? I suggest the following:
– Declare a “no phone zone.” Whether it’s your bedroom or the dinner table, just say no. That goes for your kids as well; let them keep their technology away from the dinner table and enjoy family time.
– Carve out four hours for a time-out each weekend! Enjoy family, friends, the news, or a show – and be truly offline.
– Schedule time with friends – just to catch up or just to chat! Yes, pick up that phone, and not to text or email, but simply to place a call. Schedule a coffee meeting, or lunch out. Revisit the schedule and get to know one another again.
Now that you know how – will you implement these simple steps? Will you treasure that Earth Personality that allows you to do all for others – but take it a step beyond and do something for yourself.
Sharon M. Weinstein, MS, RN, CRNI, FACW, FAAN, CSP
Sharon is an energetic, motivating and highly skilled professional speaker and author specializing in work/life balance. After all, she wrote the book. She is the founder of SharonMWeinstein, an LLC and two not-for-profits.
She holds the coveted Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) designation, the highest earned international recognition for professional speakers. This makes her one of only 12% of all speakers to hold this designation and one of only 21 nurses in the world with this credential.
She uses her nursing platform to educate others about the need for work/life balance, fatigue and stress management, and gratitude. A past president of the Infusion Nurses Society and past chair of the Infusion Nurses Certification Corporation, she is best known as the author of Plumer’s Principles and Practice of Infusion Therapy and B is for Balance. She is Vice President of NSA-DC and Dean of the Speaker’s Academy.
She rode a camel in Cairo, was a delegate to the Women’s Conference in Beijing, designed the foreign patient department at the Kremlin Hospital in Moscow, and played with the penguins at Phillip Island Nature Park, Australia.