No is not a dirty word

An important part of being an adult is being a good parent to yourself. In other words, looking out for your own well-being.

This means giving yourself permission to say no – to anything that doesn’t serve you.

If you’re used to saying yes a lot, saying no might be a bit difficult at first. Especially if, like so many people, you are worried about what others might think of you. Or, if you feel like you are letting someone else down by saying no.

Being a good parent is actually a form of practicing good self-care. It’s about being learning to be kind to you.

Now, if learning to behave in a loving way towards yourself is going to be a process, you’re not alone. I know that I was well-practiced at lecturing myself and pointing out my own mistakes, and it took time to re-learn those habits.  It can take some practice to become a good parent.

The first step is noticing how you typically talk to yourself. It’s all too common for many of us to over-commit, or say yes to things we really don’t want to do, and then berate ourselves for not getting it all done.

Honor what you really want or need: practice saying no.

Saying no to what you don’t want leaves you plenty of time to say yes to what you do.

The Importance of Self-Care

Self-care, or Self-renewal as Stephen Covey calls it in The 7 Habits, is one of the most important and least practiced habits for success. Self-care often ends up on the bottom of a long to-do list, especially for those of us who are busy and goal-oriented.

Covey tells a little story of a man so busy working to cut down a tree that he doesn’t want to stop to sharpen the saw. It might sound funny, but Covey makes a good point. He asks the question, are you too busy driving the car to stop and get gas? So many of us are worried that if we stop working, for even a moment, our goals will be further away. Maybe, just maybe, we’ll even get a little bit lazy.

Covey suggests one hour a day as a minimal commitment to self-renewal. I have to agree. That single hour can do so much to make you more productive during the rest of your work than you might think. Now, this doesn’t mean spending an hour watching tv before bed. It means spending a hour doing whatever feeds you. It could be listening to beautiful music, reading an inspiring book, taking a walk outdoors, practicing meditation, attending a yoga class, or engaging in sports, to name just a few examples.

Self-renewal can be physical, mental, or spiritual, as the examples illustrate. And ideally your weekly self-care time should include all 3 components.

One of my fellow massage therapists has a sign in her office that reads, “When life takes it out of you, massage puts it back.” Now, you can easily fill in the blank any number of ways… with something specific that fills you with renewed energy and commitment.

When life takes it out of you, ________ puts it back. Now, brainstorm a list of words that fill in the blank, and start scheduling an hour each day, just for you.