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July 15, 2010

Tips To Stop Over-accommodating or Care-taking


Many people have a difficult time saying no to their bosses, lovers, children and/or friends.  These people tend to be very kind, loving people who are all about helping others…unfortunately, often at the expense of themselves.

When you combine a desire to please with a need to avoid conflict, you often end up with a very over-accommodating, tired human being.  Over-accommodating happens when a person says yes to almost everything.  At work they may agree to stay long hours for their boss even though they have plans.  They’ll take on more and more projects and tasks than are humanly possible to do and not complain or ask for help.  They’ll simply push themselves to the nth degree to get it done.  At home, they may do all the chores, keep the house clean and take care of the kids.  If they’re sick they often will struggle through rather than resting and having other family members pick up the slack. 

The bottom line is they’re all about taking care of everyone else and seldom care for themselves.  As you can imagine, this will eventually wear anyone down.  They often begin to feel run down, depressed, resentful, anxious and even sick.  Care-taking though is a part of who they are and if they stop doing it, they often begin to feel bad about themselves.

The problem with care-taking isn’t that they’re kind to others.  The problem is that they’re kind to others at the expense of themselves.  When we constantly put the needs of everyone else ahead of our own needs, we have no one looking out for us. 

Saying no, taking time out for yourself and drawing the line when necessary, are all vital to healthy relationships.  For those people who struggle to say no, here are a few tips to build those muscles:
1.    Set up an automatic pause button. When someone asks you to do something tell him or her you have to think about it and will get back to them.  Take the time to think if this is something you really want to do, can do and should do before you respond.  Without this built in break you are likely to give your knee jerk response of yes.
2.    Incorporate the 24-hour rule.  For larger requests such as taking on a new project, watching a friend’s child etc., tell the person you will get back to them in 24 hours.  With close friends and family you can even tell them about the 24 hour rule because you are working on not spreading yourself too thin and saying no.  Thank them for supporting you on this.
3.    Practice saying no.  Make yourself say no at least one out of every 5 times.  Practice with a close friend, playfully ask your partner to ask you something or tell your parent no when you really don’t want to do something.
4.    This or that.  If you are already over-extended, refuse to take a new thing without letting go of something else.  Think of it as an exchange that maintains balance; you can exchange “this’ for “that” but you cannot do both

If you struggle with saying no, chances are you don’t want to be mean and often think it’s no big deal to help.  Saying no is not being mean.  Often saying no is a gift.  It’s a gift to you, your children (so they learn to take care of themselves) and to your partner.  When you say no, it is an act of self-care that leaves you with more energy and less fatigue and resentment.  This is a win-win for everyone.

CHALLENGE: Begin to play with the idea of no being a gift.  Incorporate some of the rules above beginning with easier no’s with the safest people and expanding to the more difficult no’s with the more difficult people. Good luck…and if you don’t want to do this challenge…JUST SAY NO!


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Saying "No" is not being mean?

Ha ha. Ask my kids that!

Nicely done post!

I struggle with seeing where the line is between being accommodating and being co-dependent.

I believe it's good to accommodate with healthy boundaries, but too often I think I err on the side of co-dependence. Do I secretly believe that others can't get along w/o my help? I don't know the answer.

I want to be a healthy accommodator, not a co-dependent.

"Care-taking though is a part of who they are and if they stop doing it, they often begin to feel bad about themselves. "

I completely agree with this line. How do you deal with feeling bad about yourself?

I have learned that most of the time it is easier to say yes because I will stress out over it less and it is not worth the stress to say no.

Thanks. Good article, from a classic case of this.

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