Do you suffer the plight of being an over-ambitious keener who doesn’t like to say "no" to people and opportunities? Do you want to do it all? Do it well? And all by yourself?
Why do we find it so hard to ask for help or to turn down requests for our services? Why do we feel like we even have to carry the whole load by ourselves?
Somehow, along the way, we have taught ourselves that we are excelling at life and are noble for being an independent task master.
If we moan and complain about the load we carry, we elevate ourselves to martyr status (rather than hand off some of our responsibilities). How did we get so stuck in our ways and unhappy?
This driven nature is part of the work-ethic culture that North Americans are raised in. If you are not industrious, you must somehow be lagging, lazy or falling short.
Well, it's time to set the record straight. The cost of this thinking is too great a price to pay. So, let me reframe it for you so it becomes distasteful to be so ambitious.
How about this way of thinking:
1. Other people, including the kids, would benefit from feeling important, too. Helping mom or dad makes them feel valued and significant.
2. Kids may not be learning important life skills if you do everything for them. Will they be as competent as you when they leave home for college or university? They need time to practice.
3. Believe it or not, what makes people feel close is when they give and receive help from one another. Helping one another builds bonds.
4. Why not be kind to others and lower the bar? I find it very comforting to visit people who have messy homes and who don’t apologize for it.
5. Saying "no" doesn’t make you look lazy, it shows you are in charge of your life and disciplined.
Now, for the die hards who don't want to change, here are some baby steps to get you started:
1. Start with a small experiment of asking for help, or saying “no” and see how it feels. What did you expect would happen versus what really happened?
2. Decide to forgo a commitment and see how you feel about having less to do. Was it worth it? Do you feel more relaxed? Did you enjoy having time with more fulfilling activities?
3. Write a list of things you would like to do or accomplish if you only had more time. Are you using your time wisely? Or defaulting to things you don’t want to be doing?
4. Ask yourself who should be doing this task? Is there someone better suited or its their responsibility? If so, ask why aren’t they doing it? Are you enabling someone else’s evasive behaviours?
5. Challenge yourself: would you rather have your own way? Or have some help?
6. Notice if you are yelling less and connecting better when you are not overextending yourself. Do you want to be in that state more? Or do you prefer the frantic state?