Published on Mon, 19/10/2020 - 12:57
Victoria Tuck
lady in a hat

Good things happen when you start saying no

My cohort recently did the second module of Crossing Thresholds – ‘getting the balance right for you’. We were heading into autumn, and while I always love watching the leaves change colour and shiny conkers dropping onto rainy pavements, the transition brought on a bit of sadness for me this year - a reminder that while time is passing, there doesn’t seem to be much change on the horizon in terms of relief from the restrictions we all face. COVID world is becoming the new normal, and while I’m trying to enjoy life as much as I can, I’m sometimes feeling flat and missing things like gigs and festivals - even parties (said the introvert!) - i.e. the times when I feel really 'alive', excited and connected to humanity. I expect the existential dread that started creeping in during my early thirties has compounded all this, though it has eased off a lot now I feel like I’m on my path, even if I’ve only taken my first steps along it.

Anyhow. CT module two! I was really looking forward to this one. We talked about the kind of lives we wanted to live and where we were spending our energy (vs. where we want to spend it), self-care practices and saying no. We also had a nice catch-up to find out what everyone had been up to; we’d all managed to do something to something towards our goals since the last session and the course is such a positive space to celebrate our actions and achievements and take inspiration from other women. Among my peer group, one had begun retraining for a new career, another had got the promotion she wanted, a third was taking steps to address her work-life-balance. For me (budding writer), I’d had some career conversations and done some writing, including this fun little read on why swimming is the best escape from 2020.

What resonated for me most in this module was the segment on saying no. This has never been my strong suit, at least not in a couple of areas of life, work included, and I could feel the reaction in my body as we went into the topic. I’m building my understanding of where this has come from for me as well and honing my boundaries. Recently I’ve practised saying no to a few things including ‘business as usual’ work in my job (now dominated by Covid-19, as for many civil servants), running my family book group, and social stuff when I don’t have the energy reserves. On which note – if applicable to your life I’d recommend reading Period Power by Masie Hill, which is helping me understand my menstrual cycle and plan my life around my energy where possible – including saying no when I’m likely to be depleted and would be wise to batten down the hatches instead of galivanting around London!

So I found a lot of food for thought in this module, and I realised there was more behind my struggles with saying no than I previously realised. I will mull over this new insight and perhaps enlist my peer group for some coaching. Feeling energised by the session I did a couple of tangible things very swiftly - at the suggestion of fellow participants I started to listen to my favourite podcast while doing my physio to help ensure I do it consistently, and I asked to work a nine-day fortnight in the new job I’m starting soon. This was agreed and I’m looking forward to using that non-working day for whatever I need – sometimes that might be working towards a new career, sometimes I expect I will just recharge, and that is no bad thing.