I used to be that way, and I think deep down it was because of a need to be needed. A friend once told me that “No” is a complete sentence. I like that. It took me a long time, two thirds of my life if you’re counting, to become aware of my problem and to feel comfortable enough to say thanks but no thanks. Of course telephone sales people don’t get “no thanks,” but a “not interested,” followed by a quick hang up.
Can responsibility be merely a response or a reaction to other’s needs? Is it a knee-jerk response? Taking care of ourselves should be our first priority. By not overloading or overwhelming ourselves, we are able to enjoy and engage in life. This doesn’t mean never helping someone else out, it means placing ownership of the problem on the right shoulders. It doesn’t mean you are a selfish individual. Being honest and tactful alleviates misunderstandings and resentments. We have to speak our truth.
Samuel Butler said:
“Silence is not always tact, and it is tact that is golden, not silence.”
This past week I was in the midst of clean up after flooding rains, preparing for another hurricane swirling around Baja California, and attending to edits on my latest work. I had a full plate. As my obligations started to ease, I thought about my daughter having her air conditioning replaced and moving it into the attic. That’s a major job. It also means a lot of time off work for her, while repairmen are in her house. I offered my assistance.
Last night I questioned taking on yet another responsibility. I had made my offer to my daughter with the understanding that we would talk after the next round of rain on Wednesday. If my house is in order, I’ll help out with hers. First things first, right?