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Erin Spatz: Changing your mind

  • Tuesday, September 3, 2013

I learned a few years ago that it is okay to change your mind or say no. Now I know that everyone else learned how to do that pretty early in life, but I think I missed that class.
The problem is, someone will say “Oh, I need help with (fill in the blank).” And my response is almost always is “I can totally do that!”
Even if I am not exactly sure I will accomplish it and there is a chance I may not even have that skill. It's not that I am overly confident, it's that I underestimate how hard some things will be.
And my thought is always if I have something, and someone needs it, I'll share. If I can help, I will. So, the word 'no' really wasn't in my vocabulary.
The result of not saying no, when I should have, meant that I was trying to live up to an unrealistic expectation of myself. That I could do all things for all people.  I could say yes to everyone and do everything. Do it well and fill a need.
As a family we have always said that we love God and serve others.  By saying “yes”, I thought I was doing what our family wants to do.
But, as my niece Ava would say, “For, cept no.”
It wasn't that I was just saying yes to everything, it was that I also didn't know that it was okay to change my mind. I would sign up for something and find out that I either wasn't good at it or that it was interfering with my family. And I would stay with it because I had said yes.
One of the things my parents taught us, is that if you commit to something, you see it through. You don't get to quit halfway through when you're bored or because something more fun comes along.
Okay, so here is the part I missed ... Saying yes to something does not lock you in for life.
If I said sure, I'll bake 100 pies for you every Saturday for a year, and then I discover that I actually don't like baking pies, I can say, I am so sorry, but I cannot keep baking pies for you. Do you know what will happen? I will get to stop baking pies. The earth will not spin out of control. That lovely person will find someone who does love to bake pies.
If you need a minute to take that information in, I totally understand. It was a shocking realization for me too.
Why am I bringing this up now? Well, I'd like for us to pace ourselves this school year. Sign up for things and participate in your child's life and classroom as much as you can. But, you can say no.
There is no need to sign up for every party, event and assembly. Doing so will not actually make you a better person or parent. It may just make you hostile. Then you're hostile, and no one likes that.
And, you know what else? If you are asked to watch your friend's herd of ferrets and you say no, they will not like you less. It's true. I know that for a fact. It happened to me.
It is actually celebrated in some parts of the world to know your limitations. And, as soon as I find that part of the world, I'll let you all know.

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