“Hello, my name is Diana and I’m a compulsive yes girl. The first step is admitting I have a problem.”
I didn’t really realize I had a problem until my husband and best friend staged their intervention. Okay, it wasn’t a real intervention, but they both came to me within hours of each other and told me I needed to stop saying yes to every request for help. I was a little shocked. I mean, volunteering and being helpful is a good thing. Having people be able to depend on me when they need to is a good thing. All true, but not spending every free second doing something for others is also a good thing.
I enjoy the things I volunteer for. I also enjoy being needed. There are so many people who need help. Can I help with a fundraiser for the school? Of course, I can! I can help AND I’m good at it! Can I help start a youth group at our church? Of course, I can. I can do that AND I’m good at it. Can I help be the team mom for basketball? Of course, I can. I can do the team mom thing, the score book, the stats and I’m good at all those things! Can I coach a city league volleyball team? Of course, I can! I’m an amazing coach, and I love volleyball. Can I help at the mission? I can totally help. I don’t mind getting my hands dirty on occasion. Can I run a benefit for the office so we are more involved with the local community? Sure, I am great at helping people raise money and I love that it’s for our community. Our church needs a newsletter? I know exactly how to put one together and where to find the templates to make it easy! There are so many other examples that it is actually a little sad I didn’t notice how thin I was spread until it was pointed out to me.
It didn’t really occur to me that sometimes saying yes is too much of a good thing. Yes, I can do all of those things. And, yes, I am pretty darn good at them too. But, there is a point where choosing what to volunteer for and what to allow others to volunteer for becomes necessary. I’ve realized that by saying yes to everything – people have started to assume I will always be available. That’s simply not true. They begin to expect and assume that I will always be willing to help them out. My husband finally just said to me “You’re overextending yourself, and when you do that you overextend me too. I need a break!” Oh. It’s not just about me and my abilities. It’s still about the wonderful husband and children I have.
The very first thing I gave up was coaching other people’s children when mine were not participating. It was really fun for me. I love coaching and I love watching kids go from zero knowledge of a game to actually playing it. It’s such a fun growth process to watch! But, with all three of my kids in sports it was quickly evident that I’d be missing their sports to coach other kids. No acceptable. No one had to point it out – I just knew it wouldn’t work for me.
Our youth group was blessed with a couple interested in leading it very shortly after we started it. Perfect – I didn’t really have to say no, and there were already people to fill the spot. Awesome!
The next thing I said no to was the third go round of the benefit gala for work. I committed to a small portion of the event and refused to take the lead. I sat back and watched as something I’d created and nurtured was neglected. It was so hard. No one was doing anything like I would have done it. I was nearly twitching over wanting to get my hands back in the mix. But, my husband and my best friend were both there to encourage me to stay out of it. The event happened, money was raised, and kids were able to attend camps. It may not have been as much money, it may not have been done my way. But, it still happened. The same end was met.
I gave up the church newsletter too. I really enjoyed putting it together and the feeling of accomplishment when it was completed. But, there truly wasn’t enough time for me to nag people like editors need to do. So, deadlines were continually missed, and I would become frustrated by the fact that I couldn’t meet my deadline because others hadn’t met theirs. My husband reminded me “there are other people who are able to put together a newsletter if they want to.” This is true. I do not hold the newsletter corner of the world. There are others who are able and many do not have jobs outside the home. I let it go. It was painful, but not as painful as some of the other things I’d let go.
Next, team mom. This was tough. I love helping with this. I love being in the know. But, the fact is that too many cooks in the kitchen never works out. So, team mom had to be dropped.
School fundraisers are still on my list of things I help with. I enjoy them. Some of them, I’ve realized that I need to take a smaller portion. Others are simple enough that there is time enough for me to do them and it’s not hindering me in any way.
Working at the mission still happens. I take my kids and they get to see how truly blessed they are. This one will probably never go away. The blessing I receive at helping there far outweighs any time spent.
The thing that has really amazed me is how hard it is for me to tell someone no. I feel like I need an excuse like, am I working? Do I have something else scheduled at the same time? Something like that – I need a reason why I am saying no. The truth is that I don’t really need a specific reason to say no. It is okay to simply not do something. I have told everyone that I volunteer for that I am willing and able to help if they are in a pinch. I don’t want to leave someone stranded. But, I am realizing that others don’t bother to volunteer if they think it isn’t needed. The other thing is that when I volunteer it is the same as volunteering my husband. He never refuses to help me. I say yes and that yes is as a couple. He backs me even when he is annoyed that I agreed to do something. I am really so blessed by him!
Still I find that when someone says “Hey, can you help me?” I actually find the no sticking in my throat. I think it’s gonna take a bit more therapy to get the hang of it…