I'm not sure why saying "NO" is so difficult but for me, Its one of the hardest things to do. Don't know if its the not wanting to disappoint anyone or if I just hate letting people down. It's just difficult!
If there's an easy way to do this I don't know what it is. I can't give you a magic equation so my advice is to just do it. Just say it.
We are trained from childhood that "doing good" is important. We are "programmed" so to speak, to to be nice, help each other. And having to disappoint someone by saying no is hard. BUT, in order to keep us on even keel, to make sure we keep our priorities in line sometimes saying "no" is just something we have to do. There's that priority thing again. Figuring out what matters, what we want to focus on.
Some thoughts to help -
- Be Selective! You don't have to say "yes" to everything that comes along. Seriously, if we spend all our time focusing on things that don't matter to us, we get burned out and have no time for the things that do matter. Step back and figure out exactly what really matters then focus there.
- Do The Math! Seriously, take a good hard look at your life. THEN make the choices based on what you know. If you want to spend (INSERT YOUR NUMBER HERE) hours a week on genealogy, and you need (INSERT YOUR NUMBER HERE) hours a week for cleaning, transporting children, and (INSERT YOUR NUMBER HERE) on other "family" things, can you really afford to donate 20 hours a week to volunteer at the animal shelter? Before you say yes, organize your priorities, the things that matter and see what you have available. Then prioritize how you want to spend it. I volunteer for an organization at Ford. When the call comes out each month for workers, I stop, look at what I have going on, what my other commitments are and what time I have available and then (AND ONLY THEN) do I commit.
- Don't be Compulsive! Don't rush in. Just because they ask now doesn't mean you have to answer now. Be honest - "Gee, I'd love to help, but can I get back to you after I check my schedule?". If they truly want your help they will understand. Take the time and step back, check your priority schedule and then make your decision. Be especially wary of making decisions when you are tired or stressed. I've found when I just cave in and commit because I'm tired or because everyone else around me said yes, I always regret it.
- Be Honest! It's always better to be honest up front. It's not always the easiest way to go, BUT in the long run it's better for your relationships if you just say it right up front. "I just don't have the time to commit to anything else right now.", is far better than committing then finding out the next morning that this really wasn't something you wanted to do and have to cancel. In the long run (hopefully) it will be better for both parties that you were honest and upfront about it.
- Be Flexible! Sometimes no matter how hard we try things come up and BAM! our little list making, prioritized life has to bend. Whether it's grandkids, kids or just a neighbor in need, we are a persons last hope for that hour of assistance that they desperately need. Emergencies happen, cars break down, power goes out, or someone needs a ride. Yes, those things do happen, its called life. It's important to step back and understand that we don't have total control. Things happen its called life. Be flexible enough that if you get a call and someone needs you to stop and help for an hour its not the end of the world. You will recover and move on. Remember, one day it might be you on the "needy" end of that phone call.
Hope this helps someone. I'm not a shrink or anything but this whole process helped me tremendously. Hope it does the same for you!