A month or so ago, a friend of mine was on my mind. She has a lot going on in her life and is in her first trimester, that oh-so-exhausting part of pregnancy.
I messaged her on Facebook and offered to bring her growing family dinner.
Of course, she refused.
And then we played that polite game, the game that all Modern Over-Burdened American women play so well.
She refused again.
I said, “Girl…! Seriously. I want to do this. Please let me help you out right now.”
Then she finally, finally relented.
And I brought her dinner later that week.
Then, the tables turned few weeks later. In fact, it was just after I published this post that a (different) friend messaged me on Facebook and asked, “Is there anything I can do to help? Can I bring you dinner? Can I babysit your kids? What can I do?”
And of course, I refused.
Because I was fine! I was fine, really.
Somehow it felt like a weakness to actually admit that I need help, that someone recognized my need.
It was my gut-reaction to say “No.”
“No, I’m fine.”
“Thank you so much, but I’m good.”
“I can’t think of anything right now!”
“Girl, you have enough going on! Don’t worry about me!”
Why is it so stupid-hard to say, “Yes,” especially when someone offers?
I couldn’t say, “yes.” Saying “yes” felt like painfully gulping down Humble Pie.
But really, my “no, but thanks!” was full of pride.
It is easy to give…
…not so easy to receive.
Then I laughed at myself because I was on the other side of the spectrum.
The truth is,
sometimes a lot of times I do need help.
Plus, I had violated one of my personal rules:
If someone offers food, always, ALWAYS say yes.
So I wrote her back, and said, “You know what? I could use some help. I have a crazy day on Thursday. Dinner would be great. Thank you.”
It seems counter-intuitive in our culture to write a blog post about saying “yes” when a quick Google search reveals over 500,000 hits on the topic of “How to say ‘No’.”
It seems like we say “Yes” too often, to projects, volunteering, activities, work, parties…until the stress becomes debilitating.
I know that stress. So I started saying “No.”
This past year I’ve had to say “no” to many things:
Volunteer positions I loved
Manuscripts to edit
Hosting dinners and parties
Additional classes to teach
I’ve had to cut out excess (and even things I thought were necessary, like additional work!) so I can reduce stress in my life.
It’s helped, some.
But I’ve come to realize that saying “yes” reduces my stress in ways that saying “no” cannot.
Saying “yes, I need help. And thank you” is all about receiving love and care from someone who wants to give.
And we all need to be cared for.
We all need love.
When we get stressed and overwhelmed, we should evaluate our schedules and say “No.”
But to soothe the tension and pain that stress leaves in our lives, we need to say “Yes” more often.
So I’ve been repeating this truth to myself:
People love you.
They want to help you.
You don’t need to say “No” all the time.
Let yourself be loved.