value of saying no

Late one evening, while having a difficult time winding down and falling asleep from a long day, I realized just how overwhelmed I really was. I was determined to slow my thoughts down, try to achieve some focus and become aware again. This was not easy at first, but when I was able to give myself some compassion – a moment of insight occurred. I realized that I hadn’t actually done this in a long while – just being still and alone with me. It was then when it started to become clear about why I had felt so uncomfortable in my own skin and just plain frustrated with everything and everybody on the planet! I had achieved enough insight from the experience of doing analysis as I trained to be a clinical therapist to know that I had to own what was happening around me. How I was reacting was completely on me – my responsibility. I knew I’d have to own it all in order to unburden myself from all the chaos surrounding my experience. I finally came to the conclusion that it is okay to do enough; that the lines of my boundaries got blurred. I had actually ignored what I value and what is most important to me and put myself on the back-burner to take care of everything and everyone else first.

How did my spiral away from being in touch with my values start? I simply said yes, when I should have said no, because I thought, just this once it would be alright. I could fit whatever it was in my schedule this week, and well that went on for another week and then another, and a snowball turned into an avalanche. I ignored my gut feelings and my inner voice. I soon started getting messages loud and clear, when my body responded with exhaustion, breakouts, headaches, and back pain. I started hitting the snooze alarm, ignoring my workouts, upping my caffeine intake, eating more junk food, and being really impatient with everybody that mattered to me in my life. I was completely out of touch and ignoring what my body was telling me.

The fact is, I actually value my quiet moments alone. Having the time for maintaining my own piece of mind was vital to me. I was not being honest with myself, or with others by agreeing to give so much of my energy away. If I didn’t start making my needs important again, then I could not be truly present in my own life, because every day I was just trying to figure out how to get from one task to the next. If I didn’t begin valuing what was most important, then I couldn’t be the best functioning and alive me, which is actually how I shine around others. I felt scattered, like the ugly parts of myself where showing up too often; the short- tempered, impatient, and quite obnoxious me was always available.

I realized that in order to feel whole again, I had to go back to the basics, which simply put, are my personal values and my boundaries. What I valued had to be first in how I decided to manage my time and my energy. Going back to better habits of self-care was not easy at first, so every morning I made a choice about how I wanted to start my day. I also made a conscious effort to be attuned with what my mind and body was telling me. First, I bundled myself and my 3 dogs up and took a long walk in the cold and simply enjoyed my surroundings and the experience with my dogs. The next morning, I got up early enough to be with my husband, so I had a chance to connect with him, nurture our relationship and make a pot of coffee to share. What I noticed in the days and weeks ahead was my ability to regain my energy and work out consistently again. I ate healthier because I was more rested and I was much more focused. What I found was my more patient, warm and peaceful sense of self again leading the way in my days ahead.

When you stop moving through life at the chaotic speed of a freight train and slow down enough to notice life happening around you, you can gain a lot of satisfaction, fulfillment and balance. By connecting with yourself, you can better focus on what matters most, which will help you to make choices that reflect your self-worth. Understand that we can all reclaim that vital sense of who we are because life shouldn’t be a chore!