I belong to a few organizations that require lots of volunteer work. For some years, I wondered if I had a neon sign on my forehead saying “Ask her!” . Then I slowly came to realize that that neon sign was internal, always saying “Yes” when my schedule was already full. Wanting to be liked that badly.
Then, I came up with a plan of action to turn this unproductive behavior around. First, I let myself sit in awareness of the number of times I do this daily. I learned how to delay my “Yes” response long enough to give myself a chance to say “No”.
It worked many times, but certainly not all the time. Then I heard an interview with Laura Vanderkam, author of Off the Clock. Ms. Vanderkam is a time management expert, who often found herself doing the same thing. What she noticed is that it’s a lot easier to say “Yes” to something that’s months away, because it’s almost as if we believe that event won’t really happen, or that it will happen with someone other than ourselves. Then the day turns up, and we wonder why we ever agreed to it.
Her strategy? Ask yourself “Would I do this tomorrow?” Instead of thinking and believing that the event is something you can put out of your mind, imagine how you’ll feel about it if you were suddenly teleported to the day before the event.
How would you feel? I can think of some events I’d want to be a part of. I can think of others I would rather not. In doing this mental exercise, I realized something: those I want to be a part of are things I want to do because I want to do them; those I don’t want to be part of are things I believe would please others.
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Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist. To find out more, gain access to her weekly newsletter, meditations and programmes, sign up at www.thejoyofliving.co .