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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Saying No

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I finally self-diagnosed myself with a condition I’ve long suspected that I’d been the carrier for.

Over the span of years this ailment has had ample opportunity to gestate, grow, and mutate into something far more perpetually grotesque than what it originally started out as: something innocent and benign…and I’m sure that there are those out there that would have originally called this a blessing; however, it grew into nothing shy of an obscenity over the blight of years. In fact, I have a feeling that some of you may be carriers of this particular disease as well:

The inability to say no.

I remember being asked to do things for work, family, church, friends, and various others that I didn’t mind in the slightest over the years. When asked if there were any volunteers, I found myself suffering from what some have been known to call, ‘helium hands,’ and the willingness to help out when nobody else seemed to be willing.

This was all fine and good—well, for a while.

I learned something important about myself over the years, though. While it’s good to help others in need, there comes a time when one needs to realize their own limit, and admit to themselves—and to the world—that they are not the Superman everyone might think they are, especially those of us who are perfectionists with Narcissistic tendencies…such a dangerous combination; I don’t know what Mother Nature was thinking when she threw those two permutations into the mix.

So, here I start off with perfectionism? And you ask me to do something on a grand scale? If it isn’t grand to begin with, chances are…I’ll try to make it become so.

I remember my second year at my local university when they needed someone to take charge of the children’s carnival for Fall Fling. Nobody would head up the program and it seemed that it was doomed to be a failure. However, somebody mentioned that Teachinfourth was in the Elementary Education Program and therefore, he would be a prime candidate for the job—after all, that makes sense doesn’t it?

Without a team of any sort at my disposal, I went about organizing a program I had no experience at. I spent countless hours planning, replanning, organizing, reorganizing, working, reworking, stressing, restressing, panicking, repanicking, and so on, and so on - all with a very limited budget.

And then, when things finally reached their worst, I turned to a few of my neighbors to help me out because I couldn’t take on a venture of this magnitude completely on my own, and not have it totally blow up in my face.

I think I might even have generated a stomach ulcer or two…but the night’s festivities were festive, and the fun was fun. The kids loved it.

Then I stayed and cleaned up everything afterward.

Fast-forward ten or so years into the future, when I finally came to the realization that it’s good to sometimes tell people no. After all, there would be times that to someone else—a simple job or task—that for somebody else (like myself) who needed it to be perfect—it would take hours until it was done right. While that other person simply wanted it done, I would want to make sure it was done with grandeur and awesomeness.

In other words: all they wanted was Panda Express, I was wanting to give them P.F. Chang’s and Cheesecake Factory for dessert.

Now don’t get me wrong, there are times I still say yes.

Friends come and ask me to take photos.

I love photography, you know.

But there are times I tell people no to sessions as well.

I simply do not have the time or energy to devote to them with being a full-time teacher, blogger, person and everything else in my life that is spinning about me. I have to think about my sanity…sometimes. Besides, I’m really not looking for helium hands anymore; I let the air out of those things months ago. I really don’t need relapse…or another intervention.


Rachel said...

Speaking of photog sessions........ ;D

I completely understand the whole 'no' thing. Being a perfectionist myself and caring too much what others think..... but I'm learning! See? I didn't even volunteer in your class this year. :D

Kalei's Best Friend said...

hey, i will take pf chang and cheesecake factory! :-)
I found the older I got, it gets easier to say 'no'.. mainly because you come at a point where u feel ' I don't care, I will speak my mind'...

Holly said...

It kills me to tell someone "no", but I've managed to do so once or twice. Luckily, I am not also a perfectionist. This inability to say "no" occasionally gets me into trouble when I find I've said "yes" to too many tasks which results in the quality of my efforts declining and my stress level (and usually crankiness) skyrocketing.

I wonder if coming up with some planned or "stock" responses for saying "no" would help? When I have a plan, I can execute accordingly. So, perhaps having planned replies will help me execute an occasional "no" when needed.

At the end of the day, I like helping others. I do want to say "YES!" as often as possible...while retaining my (sometimes tenuous) hold on sanity. :-)

M-Cat said...

I need to learn NO better. I just can't stand the thought of disappointing anyone.....

Richard & Natalie said...

Boy, do I need to learn this concept. Do you think you could you give me lessons? ;)

Karen Peterson said...

I say no to things as often as I feel I should. Which, oddly enough, is not as often as other people feel I should.

Paulie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paulie said...

Was a perfectionist as well, but only until I realized I'm only setting up obstacles for myself. I was basically making my own life harder because I wanted every little detail (in everything I did) look perfect. Perfection was only in my mind thought, and I slowly chose not to care anymore, and what do you know, opportunities opened up, I've learned from mistakes, I've grown as a person. Perfectionism is the worst!

Here's a nice article that better explains the impact of perfectionism on your business:http://www.thinkbasis.com/blog/2011/business/does-being-a-perfectionist-hurt-you-and-ultimately-your-business.html

Hope you enjoy it. Awesome blog idea, by the way! Love it!

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