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  • Writer's pictureDustin K

Self-care and the yin & yang of yes & no

For as many individuals there are embracing a habit of self-care, there are just as many approaches to why it matters and how to integrate it into life.

Recently, as we began making our changes, we noticed the differences in philosophies on the importance of different self-care habits, most notably in approaching this week's topic of learning to say no - a vital skill for us to practise.

As service industry professionals, both of us find it difficult to say no. Finding a way to say yes to requests from friends, family, and clients is part of who we are, but it also puts us in danger of reaching constant levels of burnout.

While the lockdowns have been difficult for many reasons, there has been a silver lining for us in adjusting expectations for ourselves with a guilt-free carte blanch reason say no.

As business owners, we had already begun learning how to say no gently. From new clients that we couldn't possibly serve due to an overloaded schedule or to current clients that requested services beyond our ability, we have plenty of opportunities to learn how to say no gently. However, the need to say no must extend beyond mere acknowledgement of our capabilities if it's ever going to become a tool for self-care.

For many, learning to say no comes hand in hand with learning how to say no gently to not risk coming across as an a-hole.

For others, the drive to say no comes as second nature wrapped up in routines developed to maintain a perceived level of safety. We'd highly recommend these individuals take a page out of Yes Man in the interest of realizing that saying yes and embracing new opportunities can be a good self-care habit.

For us, it's about balancing the no's required to maintain a habit of properly caring for our whole being while saying yes to opportunities that will enhance our choices to create a healthy work-life balance and enable us to build into the lives of those around us.

To help prevent a skewed response too far in either direction, we've come up with criteria to balance our self-care-focused no's with our opportunity embracing yes's.

No serves a vital role in establishing a habit of self-care. But to become a useful tool and not alter the way we desire to treat people, it needs to be employed effectively.

No, should preserve and maintain a sense of sanity. It's ok to be busy, but when it starts to feel overwhelming, and you begin sacrificing essential care items for balance, saying no to demands on your time is healthy.

No, should help us focus on tasking our habits towards important goals.

Finally, and most importantly, saying no should protect our self-worth and ability to say yes to meaningful opportunities to build into the world around us.

On the flip side, knowing when to say yes can be just as important. Self-care advocates often teach the need to say no to preserve time to embrace these new habits, but less often discussed is the need to balance it or risk a self-centred mindset that can lead to an imbalance in the world we've created.

Yes, a yes to every request of us can be detrimental to our self-care habits, but saying no to requests for help from the world around us can be even more detrimental at times. It can be an insulator from living an overpressured life, but it can just as quickly be an isolator that cuts us off and leaves us in a dangerous place.

Yes has its risks, but it also has its rewards. By responding positively to the world around us, we can become the yes-man who will do anything when asked, leading to burnout, or the Yes Man who builds a life defined not by the opportunities presented but the response we've curated.

Yes, it should be reserved for the right opportunities. It should be readily deployed to keep relationships in unity.

Yes, to yourself when it's time to seek rest, and yes, to a friend who needs to get something off their chest. Yes, even when it may cause you strife because yes is essential to building new life.

Yes is a tool that's easy to abuse, but it's also the one used to build something new. Whether a venture, skill or perspective, all are important to consider when encountering new opportunities. So, the better question to ask isn't whether or not you want to say yes. It's whether or not the outcome can ever mitigate the self-sacrifice from the yes.

Ultimately, just as no is a tool that has its place in preserving our self-worth, yes is equally as crucial in its role of building our worth in the world we share.

How do you balance your yes's & no's?

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