It's ok to say no to opportunities which people offer you. It's not necessarily easy. But it's ok. If you, like me, want other people to be happy by and because of, the things you do, the way you choose the outcome of a situation, and your inpetus for making decisions is: 'Will it make everybody happy?' Jeremy Bentham, the well-known defender of utilitarianism, would be proud me. But I bet you overcommit.
I used to commit to almost everything I was asked to do; saying no made me feel guilty. But circumstances put me in position of pain and at that point I knew I couldn't be the person that was needed, a person that was boisterous and enthusiastic. So I had to say I couldn't do it anymore. I cleared my diary and only went to work. My life was emptied of its busyness. It allowed me to prioritise my values and commit to the ones I chose once I was able to join in again.
Saying no allows you to value your own desires rather than believing other people's needs are greater than your own. Being strictly taught 'Do as you would be done by' helps you grow precious values and become a good friend, who very much respect any other individual. You put yourself in the place of another when you make choices. But where you assume no value to your own dreams in doing this, your energy is spent on purely other people's needs and wants. Although it seems very selfless and sacrificial, if you do not allow yourself to grow, develop the interests and activities you love, your life is living without you and you lose your focus.
Being able to say 'no' requires practice. I am not advocating being rude or unhelpful. Rather, I'm saying, apologise and explain. 'I'm sorry I can't take that on at the moment as I have a lot of activities on after work already and I know I have to keep a balance.' Those people who then say 'Come on...you can squeeze this in..?', need to hear from you a casual laugh and 'I'm sorry, no.' again.
This doesn't just apply in terms of busy mums who are asked to join the PTA. How about when we are choosing the paths of our lives? Derek Sivers, who created CD Baby, has said when deciding on a new project - he tests himself: If it's not a 'Hell Yeh!' reaction, then it's a no. No can do.
Imagine that. It goes against the 'Take whatever you can get' idea. Sure, you can read it wrongly: I'll sit here and wait for the world's best to drop into my lap. That's not it, if Sivers doesn't mind me interpreting. So many of us are guilty of justifying what we're doing because it fits in, or is a bit more money, or our parents will be happy. We compromise on what we actually want because we are fearful we will be left with nothing if we turn things down.
Practice. Practice. You'll never be able to practice real discernment if you are fearful of what will happen if you say no. It really is ok.