They say, “If you want it done, give it to a busy person” and yet, busy is the excuse offered as a reason for NOT doing something. Seems to be a contradiction.
Of course, some people do actually lack mastery of time-management skills and, indeed, this may motivate the response: “I’m too busy” but, it is just as likely that there are covert psychological factors at play.
Socially correct responses. Generally speaking, invitations and favors are offered or extended when you are in a relationship with another person – be it professional, or personal. Etiquette demands sharpening of certain tools. Then again, if the relationship is toxic, it is important to draw healthy boundaries to preserve your sanity. It is difficult to remain positive when constantly facing the exhausting challenges presented by toxicity. (Click on the link above: “the relationship is toxic” for hints and tips regarding this).
Back to the the point about difficulty in offering an honest response to a request for investment of time or effort, when the internal dialogue strongly states, “I’d rather hammer hot pokers into my knee caps than do that!”
When your intuition offers a red flag – heed.
Is it easy to be non-apologetically authentic? It is for those who are able to honestly self-reflect and actually listen to their inner wisdom. When honest with yourself, you know exactly what you want to do and with whom you wish to do it. You may say “no” to your desires for various reasons; however, what about when an otherwise socially acceptable, seemingly lovely invitation to attend a friendly or professional gathering is received by you? Do you have a gut response? What causes it?
When honest with yourself, you self-reflect about how and why you feel as you do. Then, you may try to be as forthcoming as comfort permits regarding your answer to the one who made the request or extended the invitation. If the relationship is strong and honest, and you both share a feeling of safety, the heartfelt response will be appreciated and bring you closer. If the relationship is not honest . . . well, you can do the math there. Lots of “ifs” and they all represent valuable tools to guide us through self-reflection so we can nourish healthy relationships.
If we are lucky enough to have one or more trusted family members or friends, then we know that, when asked by them to do something we really don’t feel comfortable to do, we can share our heartfelt reaction and anticipate their acceptance of our situation with generosity of spirit.
Don’t underestimate the power of this blessing. Embrace it and cherish it. Not everyone has experienced a ‘safe- zone’ wherein honesty is offered and expected as a basic premise. If you feel safe and create feelings of safety, then you have meaningful relationships with people with whom you mutually share vulnerabilities, times of triumph, strength, weakness and more. You are absolutely blessed if this is part of your life. (Note: healthy relationships do not require villain/victim/savior tactics to strengthen the bond. There is a difference between seeking support and seeking ‘saving’ as if one is a victim asking the other to play the role of savior).
Healthy boundaries are essential to positive relationships. Learning how to draw them is an important key to success, both in close loving relationships as well as with people who don’t create a safe zone for us to share honestly. Setting limits and boundaries helps us protect our deepest self.
Building walls and avoiding all contact is a very different story. Isolation is often hidden behind labels such as ‘shy’ or ‘sensitive‘ which are very real personality characteristics defined by evidence-based data. There is a big difference between healthy boundary setting when you are a shy person, and self-isolation, when you lack healthy coping mechanisms related to more complex issues – and this distinction is made by associated behavior.
Am I setting healthy boundaries by saying “no” or do I have personality issues that require professional attention? Healthy people seek clarification by asking themselves meaningful questions and actively pursuing the answers. To answer this question, there are helpful points to consider:
- Am I trustworthy? You are the only one who really knows how honest you are with yourself and with others. You are not trustworthy if you are self-destructive or if you lie to yourself regularly. That is, if you are self-destructive, your mind/body/spirit balance is disturbed by your own hand. This link might help: how can I heal and earn my own trust?
- Do I trust the other person? If “no” then ask yourself why you don’t trust that person. If that person is trusted and respected by healthy people, you might be avoiding growth. If that person has actually attacked you, defamed your character, or is known to be toxic, by defining a limit here, chances are you’re on the right track.
- What is the true reason for my saying “no”? If you are avoiding something that could be dangerous to you or a loved one in the long or short run, you are on the right track by setting the limit. If you think you might be self-distracting, click here.
- Is my self-protection in my best interest, or am I avoiding growth by avoiding this person/situation? A very personal question that centered, balanced, positive people ask themselves on a regular basis. If your answer is “I am possibly avoiding growth” then click here.
Soul searching is personal. The outcome is private. The decisions made afterwards will either maintain status quo, feed denial OR nourish personal growth. But make no mistake about it: the decision is always within the power and the responsibility of the individual.
So the next time we are tempted to say “no” . . . tapping into internal dialogue, observing red-flags, self-reflection and personal assessment of how safe we feel in the situation may help guide our response so that we either set a necessary, healthy boundary, or feed a valued relationship. When we feel safe it is easy to be honest. When we don’t care at all, it is easy to remain unavailable. How we answer is a personal choice. We embrace and avoid in accordance with our abilities.
Take home points: “I’m too busy” is
- not about “availability of time”
- sometimes reflective of lack of organization
- often reflects poor time-management skills
- usually a statement about lack of personal desire to invest the effort
- almost always translated into: “It is not one of my priorities.”
An interesting link to explore: http://www.state.sc.us/dmh/telepsychiatry/selfdestructive.pdf
Dr. Iankowitz is an ANCC board certified advanced practice nurse, Director of Holistic and Integrative Healing LLC, a certified Reiki practitioner, editor and author of several articles and books, and founder of Universe’Secretary.