saying no, no, personal boundaries, health

Are you a people pleaser – you know, the type of person who finds it difficult to say no? And when you do, does it comes out like a roar because you’re so overloaded? Well, you aren’t alone. Interestingly, there’s an epidemic of us out there and I used to be one of them. Even though I continued to overload myself, saying no just never felt like an option.

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Learning when to saying NO

Learning when to say no is a very powerful tool in stress and time management. Loads of women find this exceptionally difficult, while men (obviously not all men) seem to find it much easier. This potentially has something to do with the way females are raised, therefore many of us have had this trait from a young age.

A key thing to remember is that you could spend your entire life saying yes to others and it won’t necessarily make their lives any better, nor will it make yours all rosy, either. In many cases saying yes constantly can, and does, make life worse. We just don’t see it like that at the time.

Why we need to say no

The next thing to establish is why you need to say no. Ultimately, you need to look after your needs and health first. This is so important as someone who is burnt out is really no good to anyone – not at work, not at home, nowhere. Therefore, if someone asks you a to do something, you really need to remind yourself that you have a choice. It’s been your choice in the past to say yes and it’s your choice in the future to say no.

It sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it? Well it is, and it’s as easy as reminding yourself that only you can make that decision. No one can do it for you. You might get a bit of opposition at first but be prepared to work through it to reach the other side.

How to say no assertively

One of my biggest problems when saying no was my tone. It was aggressive. Sometimes very aggressive. This was usually when I felt under pressure, but continued to want to please everyone. Instead of looking after my needs first, I’d look after everyone elses and once I’d reach breaking point, all hell would break loose. My inability to say no assertively was getting me into some seriously trying situations.

Being assertive is very different to being aggressive. It’s in the tone and language we use. A great skill to have is looking at the reaction of the recipient of our messages. For example, when someone is spoken to with aggression they often physically take a step back.

Additionally, people spoken to with aggression will get a hurt or angry look on their face. This is when their protective wall goes up; if you look closely, you’ll usually be able to see it happening. You see, assertion, on the other hand, evokes a different reaction.

If you aren’t sure if you are being assertive or aggressive, use a successful boss or supervisor as a role model. They need to delegate and say no often, so when they speak they often do so with pleasantness, conviction and earnestly. Something like: “No, you won’t be able to take next Monday off, but I’ll check the roster and see what we can work out.” Although you don’t get the exact answer you’re hoping for, there is a degree of positivity in the way that they speak.

An aggressive boss or supervisor in the same situation would bark something like: “No, I need you. You can’t do that.”  There’s nothing positive offered in response and it can instantly make you feel bad. You often see parents in supermarkets doing this to their kids, and if spoken to the same way, they’d probably feel like screaming too.

Mastering assertion

Being able to say no in a positive way is something which needs to be mastered. It won’t happen instantly and you’ll need to practice. Keep in mind that it’s bound to feel uncomfortable at first as others will be expecting you to say yes as you’ve always done in the past. Remember above all else, saying yes or no is a choice. Therefore, avoid taking on any guilt in doing so – this is how many of us have become people pleasers in the first place.

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