124. Other people’s agendas

Do you ever get defensive when others make requests for your time?

Do you ever say yes to something begrudgingly?

(Same! I used to do this all the time.)

So today on the podcast we are discussing other people’s agendas and how to navigate requests for your time with grace – without feeling bad for either saying yes OR no.

I’ll see you inside! xo, Janeen

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[00:00:00] Janeen: Well, hey there my friends. Welcome back to another episode of the podcast. I am Janeen Alley, and as always, I’m super excited to be hanging out with you guys today. We are talking about other people’s agendas today. I think this one’s gonna be a really good one.

[00:00:15] This was really fun for me to kind of flesh this one out and to think about a lot of the things that I’m gonna be sharing with you. The idea for this podcast came based off of a text conversation that I was having with one of my friends. And we’re going to get into all the details of that conversation, but as you guys know, just kind of from a 30,000 foot view, you guys know I’m really interested in time management, and there are so many books, there’s so many experts and podcasters that have studied time and even people who are perceived to have really great time management skills. And all of these experts are in the business of helping us to create more time and to use our time more wisely. [00:01:00] But what I have found is that time management isn’t really a thing. The thing that I love to think about and focus on more is managing myself around my time.

[00:01:12] Because the truth is, is the reason why we don’t show up for ourselves or do the things that we say we’re going to do or follow through, or any of the ways that we end up losing track of our time or even what we like to call wasting our time, is because of the thoughts that we’re thinking in the moment that get us distracted or sidetracked or stuck down rabbit holes and all the things.

[00:01:34] So after having this text conversation with my friend, which ended up turning into a phone call with her, one of the things that I’ve been thinking about is how other people view our time use. This kind of puts a little twist on that time management piece, right?

[00:01:50] Sometimes there seems to be a conflict because maybe someone is asking for your time, they think you have extra time to spend and you don’t think you [00:02:00] do, or they think you should spend your time doing X, Y, and Z and that’s not how you would like to be spending your time.

[00:02:07] So the truth is, is everyone views their time differently. They view their time based off of the values that they have. And there have been phases of my life that have been less flexible for sure.

[00:02:22] But even then, I am somebody who never advocates for having your schedule booked back to back 24 7 with things. In fact, I strongly advise against it and someone might take a look at my calendar and say, Hmm, you don’t have anything scheduled at that time. Could we do this thing? And my answer still might be no.

[00:02:46] I don’t have anything scheduled at that time on purpose. In order to get to that place, I had to work through my guilt, the guilt that automatically came up, and I had to work through the thoughts [00:03:00] that I had in my mind, that I should schedule something there. Somebody’s asking me for help maybe even on a commitment that I’ve made at a certain time, and For reasons that I feel good about, don’t wanna spend my time doing that thing cuz it’s my free time. I had to work through all of those things and being very intentional about the way that I use my time. Cuz here’s the truth. I need a certain amount of unscheduled time during my week, and I have learned this the hard way.

[00:03:28] And I can’t emphasize this enough in the things that I teach and the things that I talk about, we need time to regroup. As human beings, we need time to just hang out with our family members and our friends just enjoying the life that we have.

[00:03:42] We need time to play. We need time to be outside. We need time to exercise and move our bodies, and that is what allows for connection with ourselves, for connection with other people, for connection with God and with nature. And I know for myself, if I don’t have that, I start to get overwhelmed. I start to [00:04:00] get stressed.

[00:04:00] I start to disconnect from myself, and I end up in a wildly unhealthy place. So here’s the situation with my friend. My friend had a meeting scheduled. So she is a volunteer in an ecclesiastical group, but she’s not the leader of this group. There are four women who are in this group. And one of the other women who was also not the leader, she said she can’t make it to the meeting.

[00:04:26] She has to work late. And so the meeting was canceled. The meeting was on a Friday, the meeting was canceled and it was rescheduled for Sunday morning, but the date that was picked was a time during the weekend when she had company. She had overnight guests that were staying from Saturday to Sunday.

[00:04:42] And she said, well, I can make the meeting, but it’s not ideal for me. And the leader of the group replied, but everyone is sleeping. And another interesting thing about this story, another detail that I wanna share with you is now there was a vacant spot on the calendar, the time that the [00:05:00] original meeting was scheduled on Friday.

[00:05:02] And so the leader wanted to fill it with something else.

[00:05:05] I mean, the time was available, right? the meeting had been scheduled, so she knew it was free time. So my friend said yes, but she felt resentful. She said, I don’t like being controlled by other people like this. That’s what her words were. So there are some things that I wanna talk about with this because I used to do very similar things with my time.

[00:05:29] I used to feel bad for saying no. I used to say yes and feel resentful and kind of have a grudge. And I had a lot of guilt, which was interesting. I had a lot of guilt for saying no. I had a lot of guilt for even saying yes, because that meant I was taking time away from things that were more important to me, like my kids, or like another thing that was a priority for me that I wasn’t getting to because I was saying yes to too many things.

[00:05:53] So in this episode today, I kind of wanted to pick apart this conversation just because we have a tendency to do these things. [00:06:00] So one of the things that my friend said was, I feel controlled. What someone is saying might sound controlling or might sound commanding to you.

[00:06:08] Like they might be saying, I’d like to set this up, or I wanna go out for visits. Can you make arrangements for this? It might be a pretty direct ask from someone else. And you might think that that sounds commanding, but I want to just let you know that is your thought about that. And this is important because the truth is, is it is your life, it is your schedule, and ultimately you decide how you’re going to spend your time and how you think about things.

[00:06:37] I like to try and give people the benefit of the doubt when I am texting them back and forth. It’s really tough to hear inflections. It’s really tough to hear intention when you are sending texts back and forth because you’re not actually hearing it. And so much of conversation has to do with body language and voice inflection and all of that.

[00:06:58] And, and I [00:07:00] know for myself sometimes when I’m texting, I’m just trying to be brief because I have something else that’s in front of me that needs attention. I’m just trying to send an answer as fast as I can, and it doesn’t have a lot of the softeners in it that we use when we’re verbally having a conversation back and forth.

[00:07:15] And that’s one of the reasons. I know I’m kind of old school this way, but that’s one of the reasons why I like to talk to people on the phone. So I can hear what their voice sounds like so I can pick up on those nonverbal cues. From other people, but let’s just come back to this conversations. Someone is making a suggestion or someone is making a request for your time.

[00:07:32] It is not controlling you. it’s probably not the intention of the other person, but even if it is, you still want to err on the side of giving people the benefit of the doubt. The truth is they are saying words. That is what the facts are about the conversation. They are saying words. So unless there are threats or unless there are weapons involved, no one is trying to control you.

[00:07:58] Your brain is just [00:08:00] thinking. Your brain is drawing conclusions and your brain is creating the drama. And I know that’s hard to understand. And I know for myself when I’m tired, it’s so much easier for me to react or to get defensive when I’m tired, so I try not to look at my phone at night. We’re gonna talk about this in just a second, but sometimes that’s hard to do, particularly with teenagers.

[00:08:24] But in this scenario, I recommended to my friend that she weigh her options. So the truth is you can be flexible. You can move things around in your schedule. You can say yes to going on visits on Friday when the meeting was scheduled, even though you’d rather be doing something else, and you’ve already maybe filled your time with something else.

[00:08:43] You can still be flexible. You can go out that day and have the meeting on the weekend, on the Sunday morning, even though you had other plans or not. And I want you to hear me say that. You can do either thing. I want you to understand [00:09:00] that you have options.

[00:09:01] You can be accommodating. You can say yes or you can say no. And in this case, either option felt bad to my friend. She felt bad for saying no and not accommodating the new plan, but she also felt resentful for saying yes. That is when our people pleaser shines through . So if you have that tendency to people please, and you want to make other people happy, I want you to ask yourself why you’re doing that.

[00:09:32] I want you to explore that, and I’ve done other episodes on people pleasing, so I’m not gonna cover that right now. But the interesting thing was she wanted to make people happy, but she also wanted to sleep on Sunday morning. She wanted to spend time with her friend and have kind of a leisurely morning with her company and not feel obligated to go to this meeting.

[00:09:52] I want to tell you that feeling bad, and like I said, my friend felt bad either way, is optional. She could have [00:10:00] decided to bow out of the meeting that Sunday or the visits on Friday, and she could feel good about that decision. She could also choose to be there and she could also choose to feel good about that decision too.

[00:10:16] I want you to understand this. Emotions are always tied to the thoughts that you are thinking in your mind. If you’re feeling controlled by someone else, if you’re feeling resentful, if you’re feeling guilty, if you’re doing something begrudgingly, that is all coming from you, if you’re feeling bad because you’re people pleasing, that is coming from you.

[00:10:38] And in the coaching world, we call this dirty pain okay. This is dirty pain. We are reacting. We’re not coming from our highest self. This is what is happening inside of our primitive brain. We start to get defensive. We want to hoard our time. We want to hold onto it and protect it from other people and we do this for a myriad of reasons, and I’m going to talk about this more during the [00:11:00] podcast, but you wanna understand when you’re experiencing that dirty pain because you’re resentful or because you’re feeling controlled. That is all stuff that I like to clean up for myself cuz I just feel so much better when I clean it up.

[00:11:15] So what do I mean by dirty pain. I wanna get into this a little bit more. There are times in my life where I want to feel bad about something. I want to feel sad. I want to feel angry. I want to be frustrated with something because I know when I’m frustrated, I’m working through something, I’m, I’m solving a problem most of the time.

[00:11:37] But there are times when I don’t want to feel this way. I don’t want to feel pain because of the way that I’m calendaring my life. I don’t want to feel guilty or coerced into doing something. So the truth is, is you might feel good about the way you spend your time, [00:12:00] and someone else might be angry about that.

[00:12:04] Someone else might have their feathers ruffled because you’ve said no. Is that gonna happen? Yes, it’s gonna happen. Are people gonna be disappointed with you about the way that you spend your time sometimes? Probably. But that’s not a reason for you to say yes. That’s people pleasing. Okay. You might legitimately want to say yes, and that’s awesome.

[00:12:27] That’s super easy, right? You might have to work to want to say yes. I get that. You might want to be there, but you’re not there yet. That’s okay. You can do the work to get there. You might not want to do the request at all that someone is making for your time, and you can be happy about that as well.

[00:12:45] It’s okay for someone else to be upset with you. Not everyone is gonna have the same values that you do. Not everyone will understand you or your life, and that’s okay. What’s not okay for me is to say yes [00:13:00] begrudgingly, because I feel like I have to, or because I feel like I should or because I feel like I don’t want people mad at me.

[00:13:07] I know when I’m doing this, I am giving my power away because I end up blaming someone else for the way that I feel. I don’t understand that I feel a certain way because of what I’m making it mean. You have to understand that not everything in life is weighted with equal importance from one person to the next. And even in my marriage, sometimes when I’m having a conversation with Merrill and I’m trying to emphasize how something is really important to me and he is not understanding it, I’m like, honey, this is a 10 for me.

[00:13:38] He’s like, oh, okay. You know, or I’ll ask him like, what, how important is this to you? And he is like, nah, it’s a three. You know, like we, we do this when we’re trying to calendar our time together. We’re trying to make plans for our finances or whatever. So even in a marriage where I feel like we have a lot of overlapping values and I know my husband really well, we still have to communicate this sometimes.

[00:13:59] So of [00:14:00] course, with a friend or somebody that you haven’t known for such a long time you might need to communicate the way that you see something or the way that you feel about something. But I want you to understand there isn’t a right way. There isn’t a right thing or a right answer when it comes to the way that you use your time.

[00:14:15] Having a meeting might seem super important to one person. I’m guessing it feels super important to the leader of the group and maybe not as important to someone else. And this is going to ebb and flow with seasons of the year. It’s also gonna ebb and flow with phases of life that we’re in. There’s no right or wrong.

[00:14:36] You need to decide what is most important to you. Make a decision from that place and then have your own back with your decision. One of the things that I recently decided was that I was gonna drop one of my yoga classes, and this was hard for me cuz I love yoga. I love these students. And I know for some of them, this is the only time during the week that they can make a yoga class. But [00:15:00] it was taking a toll on me emotionally, and I just was like, if none of that mattered, what would you choose to do? And I’m like, if I could choose my ideal week, I wouldn’t teach on this night.

[00:15:13] And so I knew that the right answer was to drop the class, even though it was an important class to someone else. Another example of this, and I’ve used this example before on the podcast, but it was really eye-opening for me when I understood this.

[00:15:24] My kids’ coaches have told me before that I need to be at a mandatory parent meeting, and I know for myself, I am the one who decides what goes on my calendar and if I need to be at a mandatory parent meeting. As a single parent, sometimes of four kids, if my husband is deployed and I have four kids at home, they cannot make that demand of my time.

[00:15:44] I actually don’t need to be there at the meeting, but my kid does. And if it’s important to him, he’ll be paying attention and he’ll tell me what I need to know. That’s it. What’s important to my kids is important to me, but I [00:16:00] also know what my boundaries and my limitations are.

[00:16:02] Sometimes I have to weigh those and and see the trade offs again, in my mind, I have to slow myself down in order to do that.

[00:16:11] I think sometimes when we say yes to a commitment that we are volunteering for or we’re helping out for, we think to ourselves that we have to show up and do whatever it is that’s asked of us. Oftentimes, I know for myself, when I’ve said yes to something, it might span the length o f many months, it might be a year or two commitment that I am saying yes to, and it’s impossible to get all the details for everything that you are committing to over that long of a period of time.

[00:16:46] So what’s important is to continually communicate expectations. And to have your own back and say, listen, this is a really busy time of year for my kids with other things, and I’m really gonna need to protect my [00:17:00] downtime, so I’m not gonna make the meeting on Sunday, and I hope you guys understand. That’s it.

[00:17:05] Okay. The most important opinion in all of this, communicating with other people is yours. Are you doing your best? Do you like your reasons for saying no or yes? That is what matters the most. Now listen, that doesn’t mean that I’m not open to constructive criticism. If somebody feels like I need to step up and they let me know, of course that matters to me.

[00:17:29] I want to know that I am doing my part and I’m pulling my weight in a group, particularly if it’s something that I’ve committed to for sure. But I ultimately get to decide if I am going to change or not, and it might mean that I no longer have that position, or I allow somebody else to fill that spot because I just, I, I realize that it’s too much for me now and that’s okay to communicate that as well.

[00:17:55] So another thing that came up in this conversation that I thought was really fascinating is the [00:18:00] way that my friend was talking about one of the other women who had a, who had a day job, that her time was more valuable and she was the one who was able to dictate the meeting times because of her time constraints.

[00:18:13] Now, I thought this was interesting and I brought this up with my friend, and I just wanted her to know, listen, her time isn’t any more valuable. Sometimes people’s schedules are less flexible, but it doesn’t mean that her time is more valuable than yours because she’s getting paid to work outside of her home.

[00:18:33] And this was one of the things that I had to learn as a stay at home mom. I wasn’t getting paid for my time. And yes, my time was flexible, and so I felt like I was always the one that needed to make accommodations for other people when it was really inconvenient for me. What I want you to understand and what I had to learn was my time is just as valuable as everyone else’s time, [00:19:00] regardless of how I choose to spend my time.

[00:19:02] You need to be very clear about what your needs are, and you need to honor those needs and set clear boundaries with yourself. So one of the things that I do is I try really, really hard not to answer late night text requests until the morning. And that doesn’t mean that I’m not checking my phone sometimes because I do have teenagers and sometimes they’re out and I wanna know where they are.

[00:19:25] So I might see a text that I wouldn’t have seen if that’s not the circumstances of my life right now. But I think sometimes people assume that as soon as they see a text message they have to respond right away. I have learned over time not to respond to texts until the morning, particularly, if I’m getting defensive about something, if somebody is asking me for my time and I get defensive and I start to feel , kind of this mama bear, like that’s my time.

[00:19:53] You know, I start to rear up inside of me. I’m like, that’s probably not the best time to answer that text. You can think through your [00:20:00] response and respond when you’re feeling more neutral. So in the morning when I am a lot more clearheaded, I’m a lot more intentional about the way that I show up then I can respond.

[00:20:10] So let me just say, if a meeting was canceled and rescheduled for later, I understand that someone in that group might think that that time is still up for grabs. But the truth is, is it’s your time. It’s always been your time and you get to decide how you’re going to use that time.

[00:20:29] There is only so much time during the week I allocate to certain tasks, so if that time block is filled somewhere else, if it ends up getting filled on Sunday morning with an early meeting, that original time block on Friday that was canceled is a hundred percent mine. even if someone else assumes I’m free, "I’m sorry, I needed to move some things around and I’m not available at that time any longer."

[00:20:57] That’s an easy way to say that. Unless I decide, okay, yeah, [00:21:00] sure I can. I can spend my time doing that and that’s fine.

[00:21:03] I just know, and I’m very aware of the amount of time that I have to allocate to certain things. So most likely if a meeting was canceled, it’s gonna be a no to fill that time. I just know that for myself, based off the phase of life that I’m in right now.

[00:21:16] So one of the things that I keep in mind, is that often when I start to feel overwhelmed with things, I start to get really protective of my time and I start to get annoyed by other people’s requests that involve my time. I know I’m not annoyed because they asked. I know I’m annoyed because of what I’m making it mean. Because of the things that are going on in my mind. And I know when I am feeling annoyed, I start to feel like I’m bulldozing over other people. I start to get kind of snippy about things. I start to get defensive, and I can get easily offended when I’m in this space.

[00:21:54] What has helped me is, again, to create a little space between the text and my response[00:22:00] so I take a step back and I take time to analyze what my brain is doing and what I’m making Certain things mean. If I feel like I’m being controlled, I can ask myself questions like, well, is that true?

[00:22:15] What else could be true? What are you feeling? Why are you feeling that way? And if I’m thinking things like, I feel like I have to, or I feel like I should, or I’m feeling controlled, I can ask myself questions like, but is that really true? Eventually I’ll get to a place where I’m feeling a little bit better about it.

[00:22:34] I’m not quite as defensive or charged, and I can get to a question like, well, how do you want to feel ? Okay, but don’t ask that question too early because if you’re all riled up, it’s not a helpful question to ask. You haven’t listened to yourself long enough. So if you can, tell people ahead of time how much time you have for a certain thing, so in my opinion, my humble opinion, after being in a lot of meetings, meetings can be short.

[00:22:58] By short, I mean, they [00:23:00] can be 30 minutes long. Okay. And sometimes you’re not running the meeting and people like to chat. And I’ll admit what I get with my friends, I like to chat. I like to find out about them. And so that is part of the reason why meetings can go longer. And I used to get really upset about this.

[00:23:18] I used to be like, this meeting should be short, it should be, you know, no longer than 45 minutes. Until I realize I like being with these people. These are my friends. I’m hanging out with them at the same time we’re getting stuff done for this thing, and so then in my mind, I was able to expand that time and think about it as social time, as well as meeting time and understanding it’s good for my soul to be with people.

[00:23:42] It’s good for my soul to get this stuff done. Just give yourself time to enjoy what’s happening. , even if it takes an hour or even if it takes an hour and a half. Now, if you don’t have an hour and a half, that’s okay too. You can tell people at the meeting, I only have 45 minutes for this today, [00:24:00] and so let’s try and get through as much as we can, and then I’m just gonna bow out. And if people are annoyed again, it’s okay.

[00:24:07] So give yourself time to find that balance that feels right for you.

[00:24:10] And that balance is going to be fluid throughout your life. You’ll go through periods of life where you can be more flexible.

[00:24:18] Like I said, you need to stay super curious about your experience and your thoughts and what your thoughts are about other people and what they might be thinking about you. And again, so often, like 99% of the time we are just guessing about that.

[00:24:34] So it might seem like they’re annoyed. And they might not be annoyed at all, okay? But we don’t really know unless they say, I’m super annoyed that you’re leaving early . Then you can have a conversation about that. You want to ultimately feel good about the way that you are using your time based off of your life, what you have going on, and what your values are, and only you can decide.

[00:24:56] The last thing that I wanna say is you’ve got to stop people [00:25:00] pleasing when it comes to your time because it feels gross. You do things begrudgingly, you become resentful, you get mad, you start to get overwhelmed. You get annoyed with people who ask for more time. Okay? And that’s all happening because of what’s going on in your mind

[00:25:17] okay, so one of the thoughts that I love is I have plenty of time to get things done. I have plenty of time to get things done that matter to me. Another thing that I think about is, yeah, sometimes serving other people is inconvenient. If I’ve committed to something that I thought was going to be a good idea, and then when I’m in the weeds of my day to day, it doesn’t seem like I can squeeze it in.

[00:25:39] But it’s something that I want to do. I enjoy serving other people. I enjoy being there. I enjoy doing that. And sometimes it’s inconvenient. Sometimes I know I get a little stuck in my schedule and in my head sometimes, but when I think, why am I actually here? Like why am I here on this planet? What is it that I really want to do with [00:26:00] my time.

[00:26:01] It’s to help other people. That’s why I’m here. Sometimes we need to put caps on that, but the only person to know what that looks like is going to be you. So that’s what I have for you guys today, my friends.

[00:26:12] The last thing that I have to say is if you are enjoying the podcast content, I would love it if you left me a positive review about the podcast so that other people who are needing this information can find it more easily.

[00:26:25] It really does help out by leaving your review. So whatever device that you’re listening on, you can actually just open it up and leave a review right there. It’s really easy. Whatever you have to share with me would be awesome. I would absolutely love it. So thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for leaving your review if you haven’t done so already. All right, my friends, have a beautiful rest of your week. We’ll catch you soon. See ya. Bye.