When you’re a caring person, it can be hard to say “no” to people. You want to make the world a better place so you help whenever you can. You don’t want to let your loved ones down. You don’t want to leave a bad impression on the stranger you’re talking to. This seems like an admirable trait, but it can leave you vulnerable to burnout and manipulation. It’s important to remember that your needs are as valuable as the needs of others. It’s okay to set boundaries for yourself.
As is the case with most things, this advice doesn’t apply to every situation. Sometimes, compromise is necessary. However, for many decisions you make regularly, you can afford to set boundaries.
1. No apologies necessary.
You don’t need to justify, make excuses, or apologize for saying no. Most of the time, it’s nobody’s business but your own. Do you expect other people to come up with excuses or apologize every time they say no? Chances are, you don’t. You accept their answer and move on. You should treat yourself the same way.
You are not selfish or lazy for needing a break, needing more time for work, or prioritizing one thing over another. Our time and energy are limited, and we sometimes have to budget it, which means some corners might have to be cut.
2. Give yourself importance.
Time won’t always be this tight and one day you’ll have more time and energy to spend it on all aspects of your life. If you use up all your resources at once, you won’t have any left over and you won’t be able to help any more people. By taking care of yourself and avoiding burnout, you make sure you have plenty of time and energy to help the people around you.
Saying no to others can sometimes mean saying yes to ourselves. “No, I will not go to that party this weekend” can mean “Yes, I will catch up on that project I’ve been meaning to do this weekend.” Once you subtract all the time you spend on work, sleep, and other non-negotiable tasks, you don’t have much time to spend on other activities, so use your time wisely.
3. Find your inner joy.
The KonMari method used in decluttering your living space also applies to your schedule. If something doesn’t spark joy in you, it’s probably not worth spending time on. Sometimes, you have to adjust your perspective a bit: washing dishes doesn’t necessarily spark joy but having clean dishes and a clean sink definitely does.
In today’s culture of overwork and multitasking, there is pressure to take on as much as humanly possible. This is not a healthy or sustainable way to live. It’s okay to take a step back, say no to some things, and say yes to your own needs and your own goals. By doing so, you will be able to put your all into the things you’re really passionate about, which will enable you to do better. There’s nothing selfish or mean about that.