January is full of new year resolutions of things we will start--or stop--doing. What if, instead of resolutions, we vowed to be more conscious of our words in this new year?
After my own reflection on my words, here are three phrases that I think we all could benefit from using a little more in 2022.
“Yes, that would help a lot.”
Why is it so difficult for us to accept help? Perhaps you, like me, are a perfectionist who struggles to let people perceive that she needs something. Maybe you feel guilty putting something you “should” be able to do onto someone else. Or you could struggle giving up control of things that you usually do.
Or perhaps you are really like me and it’s all of the above.
This year, when someone extends an offer of something that might help, let’s take them up on it!
I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that it took me at least a year to finally fill out the handicap parking pass application that I had on my desk because I felt like I could (or maybe should?) “handle” my son’s physical limitations without it. My resistance didn’t have anything to do with any of the reasons I listed before; I had simply formed a habit.
When we deny help over and over, that refusal becomes like a reflex, and we end up missing out on the resources that were created for situations just like ours. Let’s stop practicing that refusal this year.
“Unfortunately, I can’t.”
Probably for similar reasons to those that keep us from accepting help, many of us have a very hard time saying no, even when we KNOW the thing being proposed is not something we want to do.
I’ve found, though, that the bad feelings I experience when I have to go back and tell the person no after I already said yes--or just bite my lip and do the thing despite how much I don’t want to--are far more uncomfortable than the disappointment I might put on that person if I had just been honest in the first place.
Most recently, a family member asked if we could get the kids together over the weekend. Beyond exhausted and well aware of it, I swept my own feelings aside and typed “Sure!” as a response to her text. A couple of days later, the morning of the play date, I knew that all I needed was some quiet space that day. So, I texted her to cancel. Was she disappointed? Yes. But I could have saved us both some disappointment and frustration by just being honest in the first place.
Let’s practice saying NO when we need to this year!
“I need _____.”
Both previous statements come down to this: We must start telling those closest to us what we need!
I’m beyond guilty of this one, particularly in my marriage. I am great at assuming that my husband knows what I need, but no one is a mind-reader! Being willing to ask for what I need doesn’t present a burden on those I ask; it removes the burden of them having to guess!
So, if this one is the same as the previous two, why is it here? Notice, the first two statements are responses to a question:
Can I bring you guys’ dinner tomorrow? “Yes, that would help a lot.”
Are you available to babysit this weekend? “Unfortunately, I can’t.”
Once we’ve got the hang of honoring ourselves with our responses to questions, we must get comfortable honoring ourselves when no one is asking.
This statement might be the most difficult one of all. So, start small. Instead of getting up to get the ketchup yourself at dinner tonight, ask a family member in the kitchen to grab it for you. When you just can’t stand another minute of noise, tell the kids you need a moment of quiet.
Will you always get the thing you ask for? Of course, not. But building the practice of honoring your needs with all these phrases builds the muscle of self-care that I believe is essential for each of us to really make 2022 a great year.