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Saying Yes, to Myself

Saying Yes, to Myself

Many Americans have shared how hard it is to say “no.” In our always-on-the-go society, filled with stores open twenty-four hours a day, businesses boasting of operating 364 days a year, and long work hours, we are a busy nation. On top of career demands, we add additional pressure to our lives by shuttling our kids from soccer to piano to art lessons, by trying to throw the perfect birthday parties and events, and by celebrating every holiday to the max. One only needs to scroll through Pinterest or Facebook to see how many people want the world to know how much they’re doing.

Living in such a busy society, it’s hard to prioritize rest, relaxation, contemplation, and quiet hobbies. Furthermore, each time we are asked to serve on a committee, volunteer for an event, bring refreshments to a school party, or attend a function, we feel the pressure to say “yes.” Feeling like we need to please others and prove ourselves, many of us over-commit ourselves. Stretched, overwhelmed, and exhausted, many people want to regain some balance in their lives by trying to learn how to say “no.”

Saying yes to me, saying no to others

The past few months I’ve been working to say “no.” Recently, I’ve stepped down from a board I was an officer on, I told my book club I could no longer organize it, and I declined a request to run for officer in another group I am in. People who know me well have been surprised to see me make these changes, as in the past I’ve always tried to push myself to do as much as possible. While everyone experiences negative physical and mental reactions to stress, I have rheumatoid arthritis/rheumatoid disease [RA/RD] and experience an increase in symptoms when I push myself too hard. Yet, even in the face of increased pain, it’s taken years and years for me to truly start prioritizing my health.

To do this, rather than focusing on what I can say “no” to, I’ve been practicing saying “yes” . . . to myself. When I come home exhausted from work and think, “Wouldn’t it be great if we just ate sandwiches tonight so I could lie down for a few minutes before dinner?” I tell myself, “yes!” When I think about how good soaking in a hot bath would feel on my aching joints, I say “yes.” When I am feeling pressured on the weekend to attend to all the tasks on my to-do list but am tempted to spend a half hour doing a jigsaw puzzle, I say “yes.”

Priortizing myself is powerful

Saying yes to myself is a powerful experience. Each time I do it, I feel that I am important, rather than just feeling that my productivity is what matters. When I try to tackle a never-ending list of tasks, I feel depleted and frazzled, on top of the physical pain that often accompanies a busy day. However, when I comply with the deep-down wishes that spring up, tempting me to do something relaxing or enjoyable, I feel happy, full, and at peace.

By default, as I say “yes” to myself I end up saying “no” to others, as there just isn’t room for it all. Yet, when the focus is on the “yes,” it releases me from the guilt and lack of self-worth I used to feel on the rare occasions when I told someone no. Rather than feeling like I’m letting someone else down, I feel like I am doing something important for myself.

Navigating life with a chronic illness like RA/RD is challenging enough without being hard on myself. Yet, I find that it is all too common for those of us with this disease to berate ourselves for all the things we aren’t doing. When I cut through that way of thinking and instead ask myself, “Am I doing the best I can?” the answer is a resounding “yes.”

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The RheumatoidArthritis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • Jo J
    6 months ago

    Ha! Just did that in Idaho!

  • Lawrence 'rick' Phillips
    6 months ago

    oh Tamara, I am about to post a very similar post about giving things up or taking things on. I really did not copy. I promise, promise.

  • Tamara Haag moderator author
    6 months ago

    Birds of an RA feather flock together! No worries; one of the first articles I ever wrote ended up having the exact same title, word for word, as another contributor’s. I didn’t realize that until I saw the link to the other’s article. That just goes to show some of the universal aspects of living with this disease!

  • ritara
    6 months ago

    I too , feel much better in the warmer months. I invested in an electric blanket for the cold , use it all the time . It does help and ease some of the pain and stiffness. Wish i could bring it to work with me.

  • Richard Faust moderator
    6 months ago

    Hi ritara. My wife, Kelly Mack (a contributor here), also swears by the electric blanket. In fact, she even uses it sometimes in the summer when I need things a little cooler. You mentioned wishing you could take it to work. Kelly has a small down blanket that she uses on her legs some days. In addition, I found her a rechargeable battery powered heater that we strapped on to her wheelchair. Something like this could also attach to a desk chair. Wishing you a winter where you manage to avoid getting cold. Best, Richard (RheumatoidArthritis.net Team)

  • g1m9pierson
    6 months ago

    This is exactly what I experience except that cold does indeed affect me. Even going down the refrigerated isle at the grocery store in the hot summer makes me ache all over.

  • Tamara Haag moderator author
    6 months ago

    Thanks for sharing! I too hate the cold. It is interesting that some people with RA/RD feel better in the cold and worse in the summer. For me, it’s the opposite. I wish you as much comfort as possible at this chilly time of year! Best, Tamara

  • Tamara Haag moderator author
    6 months ago

    I love that plan, Rick! The variability of weather isn’t helping either, as I feel the impact of barometric pressure changes. I live in Georgia, and on Thursday the predicted high is 78 degrees (in Feb.!) but for the following day the low will be 36. I’m hoping to get lots of sleep this week to head into that barometric pressure shift well-rested. 🙂

  • Lawrence 'rick' Phillips
    6 months ago

    Tamara, I say lets crank the house temp up to 72 get a blanket and hid until May. 🙂

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