Let me tell you a little bit about myself. I am ‘the defender’ personality type by the Myers-Briggs type indicator. An ISFJ. The I stands for Introvert. The rest of the letters I’m unsure about but I really know how the introvert part affects my life.
I need alone time. A lot.
In the evenings, after work, I come home and sit on the couch, my husband and son (Moz and Caleb) hide in the study and play computer games and work, and I sit and read and watch TV and write in my journal and process the day.
If this does not occur, due to some evening activity, then it’s not awful, but I get tired. Especially if we are out more than two or evenings a week.
I get my energy from being alone.
I understand that it is not only introverts who need to learn how to say no, but for me, the introversion is a big part of the situation. If I try to be out there with people for too long I soon fall into a fog of exhaustion. And so many good opportunities involve being with people.
I went to the funeral of a friend of mine from church. Her name was Rhonnie, she was an amazing woman who had lived a long and very full life. I listened to the many eulogies from people whose lives she had touched and I was stunned by what I heard. She had amazing extrovert super powers!
Rhonnie could invite near-complete strangers to come and stay at her place – to live with her for months at a time. While out walking her dog she could strike up conversations with people that led to life-long friendships. She could invite people to come to her place and hang out, not for any reason, just to be company. She had meant so much to so many people and I would love to be like her.
But I’m not like her.
I invite people to dinner and the evening goes something like this:
- Would you like a drink? Good.
- Had the drink? Right, now it’s time to eat main course.
- Excellent, we’ve eaten, I’ll clear away and serve dessert.
- Do you want a coffee?
- Great. That was successful.
- Now go home.
I don’t want people hanging around enjoying themselves until 2am. After about 930pm, however loved the guests are, they can go home. I need time alone to process the evening and I need to get it processed in time to get a few hours sleep.
At some point Moz and I decided that it was important for me to work part-time so that I could have hours at home by myself in order to pull myself together. I started working Monday to Thursday and then taking Fridays off
If my Friday off works well, if I get a few hours in the middle of the day to myself, then on Saturdays I’m happy to go out for lunch, or to visit friends or family, or to do any other activity that requires being in the presence of another human being.
If my Friday off does not work, due to a doctors appointment, or a hair appointment, or extra work, or whatever thing I stupidly say yes to, then my Saturdays involve much sitting on the couch or sitting in bed downstairs by myself or general get-out-of-my-hair-ness.
I know that the need for hours alone has consequences for what I say yes to and what I say no to. I know that what I write in this blog series will therefore be more easily accessible for people who lean towards introversion on that spectrum. But I hope it helps you extroverts as well.
I mean, we’re all feeling super-busy right? Everyone has too much on. Everyone wants to say no more.
One of the things I found really helpful in deciding what to say no to in life was working out what gives me life and what exhausts me. Realising that I have to say no in order to get those hours of alone time that I need. Maybe for Rhonnie saying yes to people was what gave her life. Maybe she had to say no to other things instead.
If you (like me) feel pushed around or tugged in every direction by all the wonderful and good options that you have for your life and your time then this series is for you. I hope what I write can help you to say no (without any guilt or condemnation) to those things that should not be on your plate, and to fill up your plate with the things that belong to you. With the good works you are created to do.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, to do the good works which he purposed beforehand for us to do. Eph 2:10
This post is part of a series I am writing about what I have learned about saying no. I’d love to have you join me on this journey. If you want to make sure you never miss a post, you can sign up on WordPress and the post will be sent to your email address every week without fail.
You’ll notice some special art in this series. If you want to see more of it you can find the artist on instagram @deteor42