Have you ever wished you could “rewind” a situation and undo some promise or statement you made? Maybe it was a telemarketer who maneuvered you into some ridiculous purchase, or a committee member who “volunteered” you to run the massive fund drive for the new playground. Maybe it was a good friend who coaxed you into sitting for her kids for the weekend while she left town with a new boyfriend. Whatever the case, most of us have had the experience of saying yes in a moment of wanting to please someone in need, and regretting it soon afterward. Women are often the worst offenders, wired for helping and connection, and conditioned to accomodate, often at their own expense. Then regret and annoyance set in, and we try to slip out of the commitment with some lame excuse. The net effect is that we’ve set the other person up for disappointment, and possibly an experience of ourselves as unreliable.
What a mess!
Quick fix: When you are put on the spot with a request for your time, your expertise, your money, or some service, before you say yay or nay, press the pause button and
- tell the requester that you’d love to help, but you’ll need to look at your schedule or your funds, and get back to them. (DON’T blame your spouse for the pause!)
- do an internal check to see if accomodating this request feels right to you, or if it puts you out in some highly problematic way, or if the request just feels inappropriate.
- make a decision and get back to the other person in a timely way.
- don’t make an empty gesture of saying you’ll be available later, if that’s not true.
This pause process will allow you needed time to make more careful, thoughtful decisions about how and when you share your time and yourself, so when you do give, it’s truly from the heart.