I sometimes speak to women’s groups on the subject of menopause, and I go through a basic list of dos including the usual – diet, exercise, relaxation – and I usually get back, ‘when can I find the time to do that’? Or, ‘I am so busy where do I fit exercise in’? And lots of other excuses!
But, when I say that every menopausal woman should go away for a year and discover themselves, there’s a universal cry of, ‘oh wouldn’t that be wonderful, show me the way!’ So, I have come to the conclusion that menopause stirs in us a deep need for solitude, rest and contemplation, but that everyday life comes between us and that desire.
I personally feel that suppressing this need in order to fulfill our daily commitments contributes largely to the menopausal pattern of low mood and dispiriting physical symptoms. So how can we fit in this inner need with day- to- day life?
I am just as guilty as the next woman of being unable to say ‘No’. Friends or family ask ,‘will you….’ my boss says, ’will you….’ and I say ‘yes’ before even knowing what it is! I also have a bad habit of not saying ‘no’ to myself!
We worry so much about saying no to others who may not mind at all!
At this moment it’s, ‘I need to decorate my hall, I need to spring clean my cupboards, I need to get into the garden, I need to ……and so on. Eventually all the pressure from others and myself will result in physical symptoms and stress. Over the years I have realized how important my inner needs are to my health and happiness, and luckily my body lets me know when I overstep the mark!
Finding Balance is the Key
But how can we, as women, balance this? My answer is to try saying ‘no’ to some of the requests we get and to the pressures we put upon ourselves. The trick is to do this without feeling guilty. We feel guilty that we are letting other people down or that they will not regard us favourably or that they will complain and we will feel even worse, or that we are a failure if we don’t do this and that all at once.
My children are my greatest teachers and taught me a valuable lesson in this regard. Having 3 daughters in different parts of the country, I made an effort to see them each once a month for a weekend. Eventually the traveling and weekends away became too much for me.
I felt so guilty and that I was such a bad mother for having to say to them that I couldn’t make it so often. Well, it turns out that they were all relieved that I wasn’t going to visit so often! We do all love each other very much but my visits were taking up their weekends as well as mine! We were all happier with the outcome. It made me realize that we worry too much about saying no, and the other person may not mind at all!
Give Yourself Permission to Say “No”
So… if you have a hard time saying No, try practicing in front of a mirror to yourself first to get the feel of it, and remember that most people will not think any less of you for doing so! (Just remember not to justify your refusal because you can then end up changing your mind and saying yes instead!).
Remember too, that by giving yourself more ‘me time’ to do what you really wish to do, will have such beneficial effects on your health and well being. I have written a promise to myself on a pretty piece of paper, framed it, and put it where I can see it every day.
It says ‘I Promise To Take The Easiest Path’, and it has worked so well in helping me to decide whether I need to do things or not!