As a person living with a chronic anixety disorder, I struggle with setting limits and saying no to people. I want to say "yes" to everything and everyone. I want to be able to do it all. But it's just not a realistic goal. In reality, I have to set boundaries and limits. I do manage my anxiety with antidepressants. However, I have to be aware of my triggers. One of my triggers is that I have trouble setting limits and telling people that I cannot help them or work on their project.
I am a compassionate person and I truly want to help people. If I can see a way in which I can help you, I will do that. But, I have to remember that if I burn out it can be dangerous for me and I can fall into a depression. I need to be mindful of this and make sure that if I feel I can't do something, I articulate that to the person in question.
You have to take care of yourself first
Self-care isn't just some trendy buzz word, it's important to take care of oneself. If I am not healthy I cannot help other people. That's why I have to focus on caring for myself first. That means setting clear boundaries with the people in my life. If I can help you, I will help you. But sometimes, that means I need to say "I can't talk right now" because I need to take a nap. Sometimes it means saying "I can't read your article at the moment" because I need to take care of my children.
I know now that saying "no" is the best thing I can do for my anxiety disorder. I remain centered and grounded when I know that I have the ability to take control of my time, my life, and my sanity.
How to say "no" when you have trouble doing it
As someone who struggles with saying "no," I hear you when you say "I can't say no." But guess what? You CAN say "no." Remember this: your opinion matters. Your time and your self-worth matters. You have a right to be happy, you have a right to your feelings and you have a right to say "I cannot do that right now."
Remember these simple truths:
1. I matter.
2. My feelings are valuable.
3. I can say how I feel even if others disagree or don't understand. They don't have to understand, as long as I believe in what I'm saying.
Anxious people have feelings too
As anxious individuals, we are used to being called dramatic or histrionic. We are just like every other human being out there. We have feelings and we are allowed to express them. One of the attributes of living with anxiety is that we often second guess our feelings as invalid. I have news for you: your feelings are valid because you feel them. I often have to remind myself of this, but it is the truth.
Practice saying no in the mirror
This is going to sound ridiculous, but sometimes you need to practice saying the word no in the mirror. You might be unfamiliar with actually saying "no." If you're having trouble advocating for yourself with a family member, colleague or loved one, practice having that conversation in the mirror or with an empty chair. Pretend they are sitting there and you can role play the conversation.
You got this, and I believe in your ability to say "I can't right now." Because that means you are truly taking care of yourself. To all my #AnxiousHomies out there, peace out and say "no."