The Art of Saying No
We all lead very busy lives and stress compounds when we have to fit additional commitments into our already busy schedules or worse commit our valuable time to tasks that leaves us feeling unappreciated.
Imagine how different life could be if you understood why you say yes (when you want to scream “no”) and only agreed to commitments that make your heart sing?
1. Why we say yes
We’ve been programmed to say yes in order to keep the peace. These automated responses were instilled in us from our well-meaning parents who conveyed that it’s wrong to hurt the feelings of others. I’m sure we can all remember words rabbited over time such as “don’t hit your sister,” “don’t be selfish – can’t you share that” or “I don’t have time for this or that.” Over time we shut down our own emotional needs in order to keep others happy. Over time stress compounds as we struggle under the weight of agreeing to these requests.
2. Have good boundaries
People who have good boundaries normally have no trouble saying no. They understand that their happiness is paramount in their decision making process. They also possess the necessary skills to communicate “this is how I like to be treated and that I matter.”
Boundaries can be as simple as:
I like it when…
I do not like…
I will never…
I hate it when…
3. Stop the automatic yes
When a request comes your way here’s a simple trick that will stop the automatic yes from tumbling out.
Simply pin your tongue, to the roof of your mouth and take a deep breathe.
This short lag not only prevents your old conditioning from kicking in ( by saying yes) and will allow you time to assess your true feelings.
4. The decline – thanks but no thanks
Stress comes into play when you say yes then spend the next hour or day thinking up an excuse (which is really a lie you tell yourself) in order to negate the offer. Wouldn’t it be easier to just say no in the first place?
If a request comes your way and you’re unsure of your decision use a delay tactic such as: I need to check my diary, with my husband or the kid’s schedule.
If you then decide that the request is not for you, tell the person straight away. Use:
- Thank you for your kind offer but that’s not for me
- Thank you for your offer but I have something else on
- I hope you have a great time but the invite does not interest me
The person may be disheartened; and this is where you need to stay strong. Guilt will make you feel like you need to justify your actions; however this is not something you should do. Once you start to respond it can be like opening a door and allowing the other person to enter. This is where they’ll pressure you to change your mind. Being firm with your response closes that door-end of discussion.
5. What if they become upset?
Did you know your memories have emotions attached to them? When a memory is jogged the attached emotion surfaces and triggers our actions or reactions.
When someone becomes upset understand that it’s their emotion (they may be feeling rejected) causing their actions (being angry with you.) It is in no way your fault. However you can help them by reassuring them that your decision does not mean you do not care.
A true friend would understand without the need to make you feel guilty, family on the other hand are another story and staying strong may be much harder.
6. The catch up
If you sense that someone is hurt by your no (remembering it’s their emotions making them feel that way) offer a catch up. A catch up shortly afterwards is a great way of showing you still care for them (which will negate their feelings of rejection.
7. Practice makes perfect
Declining offers at first will feel very strange; you may even feel guilty about not attending certain events. However when you put your own happiness first spending time with people who don’t make your heart sing will become less of a priority.
It never ceases to surprise me the amount of people who are prepared to be unhappy in their comfort zone (attending functions they dislike) rather than venturing outside (by declining) and seeing what is possible.
Once you learn “the art of saying no” you’re old childhood conditioning will disappear and as you become empowered stress in your life will also dissipate.
Leann Middlemass blogs about emotional wellness at My Destiny.