I’m a yes, ma’am.
I constantly find myself offering to help make my boyfriend’s schedule less stressful – “let me do something for you”; or asking my friend if she needs help planning her birthday party; or sure, no problem, I can make 17 lbs. of guac in twenty minutes for this potluck you said “yes, ma’am” to.
And this isn’t because I’m bored and I have nothing to do. No, I have two startups, a side gig as a yoga instructor, a 6am workout schedule, and a Game of Thrones addiction – I ain’t got no time for that!
But, I do it anyways. All. The. Time. I always want to go out of my way to make someone’s day a bit easier or do something nice for the people I care about – and not because I’m this incredibly charitable Mother-Theresa-like-person, but because I genuinely believe I can help. Most of the time, the words leave my lips before I have time to process what I just committed myself to – it somehow feels ingrained in me, like I have this superwoman persona with all the time in the world. *Cue the multi-tasking theme song for today’s generation.*
Does this sound familiar? I thought so.
I’m here to explore why so many women these days feel this willingness to put themselves second. Why offer to help when you know you don’t have the time? Why prioritize other people’s needs above your own? I find it hard to believe that your own responsibilities aren’t as important – so why do we make our lives more stressful on purpose? Here are some thoughts and tips on how to change these tendencies, while still being that best friend/daughter/mother/chef/adventurer/allstar you are. Check out The Cool Down’s guide to being a “Yes Ma’am,” in the right way.
Be Honest with Yourself & Others: Managing your own life is a full time job and when your schedule is overloaded with extra work deadlines, a crazy summer social calendar, an upcoming apartment hunt and more, you realistically cannot add another thing to your schedule. Be honest with yourself and what you’re capable of and let others know your limits too! If you know that taking on another task would diminish your ability to give 100%, then it wouldn’t serve its intended purpose. Strive to do what you can do really well, as opposed to doing everything halfhearted.
Set Clear Intentions for Healthy Relationships: Challenge yourself to explore why you are saying “yes”. Are you helping because you genuinely care and have the time and energy, or are you simply afraid of the repurcussions from saying no? Will your boss hold it against you? Will your friend not like you as much as your other friend? Will your dog give you the cold shoulder for lack of homemade doggy treats? Seriously though! Be clear with yourself on why you want to help and make sure your intentions are equally weighted, AKA – don’t be a doormat!
You Can’t Be Everyone’s Mother: Women have this wonderful and amazing ability to be innately nurturing (yes, you too Ms. Eye Roller!). This leads to our overwhelming desire to want to “fix things” and be the ones who can do it. So, why? Why do we do this? Your best friend is not your child; your significant other is not your toddler (despite some of his/her tendencies); your pup is not – okay, it’s hard for me to finish that sentence, but you know what I mean! It’s great that we just want those important to us to succeed and be the best version of themselves, but at the end of the day we are not them. They have to want to do it, and they are the only ones who can decide to do it. Work on you being the best version of yourself and use that to be a role model to others. Which leads me to…
Practice What You Preach, Woman: If you’re the go-to-girl for life’s problems, love lessons, workout tips and career advice, then do those words justice in your own life! If you’re so busy helping others become better, how can you work on yourself? Take time out of your own busy schedule to work on your emotional health as well as physical; make some “me-time” so that you can be a stronger, better version of yourself, in turn being an even greater support system when necessary.
Learn to Say No: This is arguably the most important tip of the day. Your “yes’s” are valuable, so don’t use them lightly! The important people in your life will appreciate your honesty and they will trust your words, since you are Superwoman and all!
Loosen Up a Little: Ahh, control….my arch nemesis! How many of you firmly believe the phrase, “To do the job right, you’ve got to do it yourself?” – my hand is raised, because I am undeniably guilty. As much as we want it, there is no way to possibly control everything; so loosen up, let go a little, and trust in the abilities of those around you – those who also support and care about you can get things right too. Cut ’em a little slack!
Give Without Expectations: Are you giving yourself, your time and your efforts while expecting the same in return? You may be capable of giving to a greater extent than someone else and that’s okay – as long as you are aware of it. Don’t act and expect that that person can do the same for you; when you give, you must do so without expectations. Sometimes a persons best can be misconstrued when compared to your own – it can cause feelings of hurt, frustration, or sadness. “I did that for him, so why can’t he do that for me…” the thoughts begin to creep in. It is a fine line to differentiate between what a person is capable of versus being taken advantage of, but you must trust your own judgement AND the character of said person. While it may not seem “fair” or “right”, it’s sometimes necessary to adjust the amount you can give to someone to create an equal playing field. No relationship should be one-sided. Give what you feel comfortable giving under the assumption you will get nothing in return.
Your responsibilities, hobbies, relationships and self worth are what makes you, you. If you are always giving away your time to someone else, you lose a bit of who are…don’t let your light fade! Work on your true self first and know that your best version can still shine through for others. Do you, girl!
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Kristyn is a co-founder of KoaWare, a content management platform designed to make management cool again, allowing entrepreneurs to focus on doing what they love. She also founded 21 fish., a boutique marketing agency that helps brands make a splash through creative Brand Marketing strategies. She’s a fitness enthusiast, avid yogi, amateur-wannabe-chef, seafood loving-pig-obsessed-green-juice-drinking foodie, and relapsed workaholic who can usually be found in a bikini. Follow her on Instagram & Twitter!