Are you often the person who raises his or her hand when someone asks for help? Do you also volunteer to help when no one has asked? (I know, ouch. It's OK. Just stay with me.) Sure, stepping up to help sounds like a good - even noble - idea, but if you find yourself "complaining" about how exhausted and busy you are, and spend a lot of time working on things that are not YOUR priorities, it might be time to investigate your motivations.
Are You a Habitual Yes-Person?
The next time someone shares their plight, or there is a request for volunteers try this: don't volunteer to help out. Keep your hand down and just sit there. If keeping your hand down and your mouth closed creates some discomfort in you, this is good! It's an excellent opportunity to examine your thoughts, to begin to learn what might be driving that behavior. Notice, is there a theme to any of the thoughts floating through your mind while you do nothing?
Here are some likely culprits:
- I can't stand the silence (Need to make others feel comfortable)
- If I don't, who will? (Savior)
- I have a few hours to spare, why not? (Might have difficulty "doing nothing," being alone, etc.)
- I feel good when I help out (Identity is hooked up with helping)
- I like to be relied on (Could be the identity issue, and under that, some need to show - or prove - you're a worthwhile person.)
- If I do this it will help my business
This last motivation is especially tricky. Everything sounds good until you realize you're in so deep that you barely have time FOR your business.
Awareness is the First Step
It can be momentarily painful when that awareness light bulb goes off. So, if you identified with any of the culprits listed above, or some other thought-pattern comes to light while you sit there volunteering nothing, be kind to yourself. You're not the only "dummy." We're all susceptible to motivations that push us into actions that aren't healthy. Awareness can be a bitch, but in the end it can be highly liberating. After all, you can't transform what you don't know about.
It's not that these drivers will suddenly stop, but once observed, you at least have a chance of recognizing when your mind is pushing you towards an action that's not in your best interests. (Hint: if it's not in your best interest, it's not in theirs either.)
The Healthy Yes
A healthy response to a need for help - or to a direct request - carries a completely different frequency than one driven by an unaddressed need in yourself. Your mind is quieter, and your body is on board. If someone were to ask you "why?" you might have to search for an explanation! This is a good sign that your energy is truly available for what's being asked. This is not to say you won't feel good about what you're doing. As a matter of fact, you are likely to feel very good about it.
Energetically, a healthy yes doesn't deplete energy, it increases it.
Until you get to a neutral position with both "no's" and "yeses," you might need to use the pause method, pause before responding. Here are just a few techniques you can use:
- Tune into your body awareness.
- Is your body interested (signified by some sense of expansion or energetic pulse) or is your mind doing the volunteering?
- If you are not sure, it's a good indication that "no" is best, at least in this moment.
- If you start thinking about the things you can move around to make room for this new opportunity, justifying this, that or the other thing, it might be a good time to decline.
- Check in with your priorities, both business and personal. Is there alignment? If there is, this is good, but if you don't have time, forget it.
- Sleep on it! A lot of people, excited in the moment, wake up the next day wondering why they said "yes." It hurts no one to give yourself a day before saying yes or no. Depending on how direct the request is, you can buy yourself time with this simple reply, "I'm interested, but I've learned that it's best I sleep on things before committing. Is it OK if I get back with you (you choose the time frame)?"
Still not sure? Consider this:It's much more difficult to extract yourself from a commitment later on than to say "no" in the beginning.