If you’re a busy person you probably love to help out and say yes a lot when people ask you to do something for them. While this feels good, you might notice that there is rarely time left over for what you want to do and prioritizing yourself is something you’re not accustomed to.

Over time, putting others first and not prioritizing our own tasks can feel anything but good. In fact it can often lead to feelings of resentment, overwhelm and burnout.

It means we often don’t achieve what we want or make much desired changes to our own lives. And we begin to feel out of balance.

For women especially, looking even further down the track to when kids leave home for instance, it can leave us feeling a bit lost. This is because while we have filled our years caring for others and putting ourselves last, we have lost a sense of our own interests and what we’d love to do personally.

The good news is, with a few tweaks we can start to prioritize more sustainably and find more time for ourselves.

Sustainable prioritizing begins with getting clear on why you predominantly say yes

Most of us like to think we are making a difference to someone else’s life and it feels good to help out. It’s a wonderful thing to contribute; it fulfills the core needs of the spirit for both.

However, there is also a personal payoff to this behaviour for many of us, and that is the desire to feel significant and needed. Plus it can often be a way of filling a void in our own lives or avoiding something else that’s a bit more challenging.

So be honest with yourself about why you fill your time with requests from other people. Remember that by allowing them to do things for themselves you give the gift of learning and growth instead. And you receive that same gift for yourself.

Release any negative emotions around the word “No”

Through the years we can develop an emotional response around particular words and this frequently occurs with the word “No”.

Just as certain music and photos evoke a particular emotion, so do words. And this is usually caused by something we’ve experienced in the past.
If we want to get used to prioritizing our own needs then we need to learn how to say no. And this begins with having a neutral feeling towards it and letting go of any negativity.

Ask yourself what saying “no” means to you and if it’s a negative meaning such as “it means I don’t care” turn it around. For example; “it means I care because I am allowing them to grow by learning how to do it for themselves”.

Then you can practice saying the word until the negative feeling disappears.

Prioritizing you by saying no with grace

When we have largely said yes for the most part of our lives, it can be tricky to do the opposite with grace.

It can be quite clumsy to begin with and often come out in a way we would rather it wouldn’t. There may also be a lot of resentment build up too, so we say “no” with more force than is needed.

I always call it a pendulum swing from behaving like a doormat, to screeching “no” like a banshee. It may work to begin with but can cause other relationship problems too, which is something we don’t want.

Because of this it’s important to learn how to say no in a positive and graceful way, so we can get on with prioritizing ourselves. Here are some tips to do this.

Prioritizing by using the word “Yes”

Yes you did read that right and it’s about getting creative with words. You can refuse using the word “Yes”.

Just as we might have a negative emotion associated with the word “no” so may others too. While this is not your responsibility, refusing with a play on words can take away any sting for you both. Plus in the beginning you might like to take baby steps too.

Begin by saying yes you would like to help them, but that you have a lot of other things on so you’re unable to do it now.

Refuse by acknowledging them

We all like to be acknowledged and if our request is turned down we could feel unimportant. And if you like to help others this is the last thing you would want someone to feel.

I want to be clear that this is not your responsibility. However this is often the reason why we say, “yes” right? So having a strategy that counteracts this will help.

Begin by fully listening and then acknowledging them and their request. Let them know you can hear how important it is to them, however you are unable to help out. You can give a reason if you want to, but you don’t need to.

Offer to guide or teach them

If it’s something that they’ve never done before or if it’s a request they make frequently, teaching them is going to help.

Remember the wisdom in this quote;

“You can give a man a fish and feed him for a day or you can teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime”

When we teach someone to do something for themselves; we support their personal growth. This is the ultimate contribution and will make a difference for a lifetime.

So you can let them know you’re happy to show them how to do it. Allow them sit in the driver’s seat so they learn from experience too. And if necessary, encourage them to take baby steps outside of their comfort zone.

Final thoughts

Prioritizing you and saying no with grace is good for you, others and the greater good. It will give you more time to fulfill your own dreams and interests, contribute to the growth of others and build healthier relationships.

This is about making a real difference in the world, because the ripples of growth get bigger and reach wider.

Working with a coach can assist you to eliminate these patterns of behaviour, create a shift in what has been holding you back and move forward to create the life you desire. You can book your complimentary clarity call HERE.