Making the decision to say yes or no is often difficult when it comes to offering help or caring for others. Saying no can seem unloving, selfish, and unchristian like…… but often, saying yes doesn’t feel quite right either.
When we extend help to others through a balanced life around our own self-care and available resources, the result is typically a wonderful, feel good gift that we receive deep down inside our beings. Acts of altruism bring about happiness, energy, and many other positive emotions.
However, when our helping and caring goes beyond our own healthy limits, we can become fatigued, burned out, and even suffer from ill health. It is commonly known in the medical field that caregivers often stand a high risk of dying before the loved one they are caring for. Sometimes it’s easy to know when to say yes, but sometimes not. For example:
In the recovery world if we say yes to the addict in our life, does this mean we are enabling which may cause further harm?
As a parent if we say yes frequently to our children will they become entitled?
Do we continually say yes to ALL our aging parent’s wants and needs because we believe saying no is dishonoring?
To a friend who is always in a crisis, does saying no or detaching from the situation mean we don’t care?
Dr. John Townsend in his book People Fuel identifies 5 questions to ask before we say yes or no to helping someone. So, before jumping in with both feet, consider these 5 questions.
Is the person I’m about to help truly able to do this for themselves?
Do I have the time, energy, and/or financial resources available to help this person or organization?
Is this person already involved in helping themselves? If so, what investment/action steps are they already taking or willing to take?
If I say yes, am I cheerful about what I’m about to commit to? Or does yes seem more like an obligation that could potentially create resentment in my life?
Will the outcome of me saying yes increase independence for the other person? Or will yes create greater dependency on my help and care?
Consider your own circumstances right now. Are you to walking away from the people/organizations that you help with a sense of joy and energy? Are you walking away feeling drained and resentful? Are you saying yes when you really want to say no? Who or what are you saying no to that you really want to be saying yes to?
The truth is, when we say yes to one thing, we are also saying no to something else. Need some help in this area? I would love to have a conversation with you!
Remember, your life matters!