Know Thyself

There are a couple of blog posts that have resonated with me lately.

In “Happy ‘NO’ Year!” Jimmy Casas reminds us that we are not superhuman, and it’s OK to say, “No,” in order to stay energized and live healthy lives.

In The Risks in What We Don’t Do, George Couros encourages us to think critically about what we will or won’t do and the risks involved, sharing that we typically associate risk with action, but sometimes, the risk of inaction is higher.

Both of these posts are thought-provoking and connect to some work I’ve been doing with a job coach lately. You see, I started this school year knowing that I could be a better and braver version of myself. So, I reached out to a professional coach who actually doesn’t work in education specifically. Sometimes, it’s good to get the perspective of someone outside of your field. Many of the skills across professions are transferable. It’s been a bit of a financial investment but like I say to myself before I buy a good skincare line, “What better investment than yourself?” 🙂

Here is my biggest takeaway from these posts and my coaching sessions:

Knowing when to say no or when to say yes and the risks involved with both requires us to know ourselves.


And sadly, I don’t think many of us are paying attention to the way we talk to ourselves…the thoughts that are running through our heads on a daily basis. You might be surprised if you tune into your running dialogue.

The first strategy my coach asked me to try included tracking negative thoughts and the way each thought made me feel. I kept two-column notes in a little notebook that I could carry with me everywhere. Sure, it was a little bit of work, so this isn’t a strategy for every week of your life, but I tried it for a month, and it was a powerful exercise.

This allowed me to step back and look for patterns in my thinking. I was shocked to see how often I found myself in a worry cycle. Perhaps cycle isn’t the right word; it was like a violent vortex of stinkin’ thinkin’. When I would be finished with anxiety over one topic, I would find something else to worry about. And down the rabbit hole of worry, I went.

Then, my coach asked me to think of one sentence that I could say to myself when I found myself stuck in this negative thinking. She suggested it be something that felt natural to me, so I settled on, “I’m not going to do this right now.” So far, it’s working! I (silently) say it when I find myself worrying about things I can’t control, things that I don’t need to be worrying about right that second, or things that are distracting me from being in the moment. Sometimes, I have to say it many times before the worry floats away, but eventually, it works.

Moral of the story: I would not have realized that I’m worrying all the time had I not slowed down to tune into my thinking. And without identifying those patterns, I would not have recognized my need to stop worrying and to start repeating a mantra (of sorts.)

Worrying is bad for our health. It can steal our moments, our happiness, our creativity, our big ideas. Doing nothing about my worry cycles was limiting my potential. So, there was risk is doing nothing about it. And it turns out, my doing something about it was telling myself, “No, I’m not going to do this right now.”

Know thyself. In knowing yourself, you will know when action is needed and when to say no.

And our best lives are on the other side of our choices.

So, choose wisely.