One of the most important things you can do to prevent burnout is to say, “No.” Yet, it isn’t always easy. Let’s look at why saying no can be tough, at times.
We aren’t used to saying no
Most people don’t ease into a cancer diagnosis as you do with exercise. Instead, life is just as normal as can be. You have your routine. Everyone in the family participates in various activities throughout the week and suddenly the rhythm of your life is brought to a screeching halt.
On October 24th, 2012, my husband went into the doctor. After feeling the enlarged lymph nodes along Dan’s collar bone, the doctor asked if we had a few hours for him to run some tests. We cleared our schedule. He ran every test he could fit into that day. The next day, another doctor began running tests, and the following day, too. Our schedule immediately became very open. Nothing else was as important as what the doctors needed to do. It hasn’t changed.
The tough thing is that we are accustomed to doing what we want to. Janie wants to play basketball, Jimmy needs to get to guitar lessons. Your husband leads a men’s prayer group and you teach a class for the homeschool co-op. Oh, and they need 8 pies baked for this weekend’s bake sale? Sure! You love to bake.
Time and energy are suddenly rare and unpredictable. Saying no is something you must learn how to do.
Others aren’t used to us saying no
While it’s tough for you and your family members to learn how to set limits, those outside of your family may have an even more difficult time understanding your need to decline invitations and “opportunities” that arise. The cancer patient in your family may not look sick. In fact, they probably don’t. Newer treatments tend to spare the patients hair, the once classic sign that someone has cancer. But, that doesn’t mean the patient isn’t completely exhausted.
Often, people will still invite you to do the things you have in the past. That’s appropriate. They aren’t trying to pressure you into doing something you can’t, but they want you to know that you’re welcome to continue as in the past. Saying no falls onto your shoulders. Even though it can be hard, it’s up to you.
People hear constant encouragement to do more
While no one will pressure you to participate, there is general societal pressure to do more. You see it in the workplace, in your kids’ schools, and in church.
One year for Fathers Day, a pastor decided to challenge the men in the congregation.
Side note: Do you ever notice that on Mother’s Day, women are put on a pedestal, and on Father’s Day, men end up in the doghouse?
The pastor told the men that they needed to start participating in “real” ministry, that they shouldn’t limit themselves to going out for coffee with a guy and think that’s enough.
My husband frequently meets with men in coffee shops to encourage them in their Christian faith, So, I was pretty angry about the pastor’s comment. I’ve never wanted to be the kind of person to complain to the pastor, but that day, that’s exactly what I did in an email. He wrote me back a very gracious apology and said that the minute the words left his mouth that Sunday morning, he regretted them.
I understand why. Pastors, teachers, employers, trainers, etc. are all supposed to encourage us to do more. And, it’s good that they do. We have to understand that there are seasons of life when those standards don’t apply to you. Saying no is the best thing you can do.
Once again I will be doing double duty in the A to Z Blogging Challenge. I will be sharing ways to avoid burnout, here at Facing Cancer with Grace. At Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker, I will share ways of thinking creatively, using Brainsparker’s Kickstart Course of A to Z prompts. I hope you’ll visit me at both sites.
Is there something you should consider saying “no” to? What is it?
What Are Your Thoughts?
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In 2012 doctors diagnosed my husband, Dan, with stage IV lung cancer. Since then, our family has been learning what it means to face cancer. I’ve focused my writing and speaking on helping cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, in spite of their illness. My goal is to help people face cancer with grace.
My book Facing Cancer as a Friend: How to Support Someone Who Has Cancer, is available on Amazon.com
Also, put your memories into words with The Memory Maker’s Journal.
I also blog at Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker