Have you ever felt bad when you had to say no to something? Or, you may have said yes to something you really did not want to do. Perhaps the thought of the other person possibly being angry at you seemed more of a hardship than going against yourself and saying yes to something you really did not want to do.
Or, have you ever felt the O word? Obligation: agreeing to something because you feel obligated. This is common among women. Most of us are natural givers. Unfortunately, our desire to be validated occasionally overrules our need to honor and respect ourselves. Some other reasons people have challenges saying no are:
- They are afraid of disappointing others. Do you suffer from the disease to please?
- They have a fear of failure
- They fear the reaction of others
- They do not feel they deserve support
- They fear rejection
- They are afraid of being judged or criticized. Do you feel that asking for help means you are weak?
I feel that I am really good at saying no; therefore, I share the following creative ways to say it1:
- Just No: “Thanks, I’ll have to pass on that.” (Say it, then zip your lips.)
- The Gracious No: “I really appreciate you asking me, but my time is already committed.”
- The “I’m Sorry” No: “ I wish I could, but it’s just not going to work right now.”
- The “It’s Someone Else’s Decision” No : “I promised my coach (therapist, etc.) I wouldn’t take on any more projects right now. I’m working on creating more balance in my life.”
- The “My Family is the Reason” No: “Thanks so much for the invite but that falls on the same day of my son’s soccer game and I never miss those.”
- The “I Know Someone Else” No”: “I just don’t have the time right now. Let me recommend someone who may be able to help you.”
- The “I’m Already Booked” No: “I appreciate that you thought of me; however, I am afraid I’m already booked that day.”
- The “Setting Boundaries” No: “Let me tell you what I can do …” Be sure to then limit the commitment to what will be comfortable for you.
- The “Not No, But Not Yes” No: “Let me think about it and I will get back to you later.”
Watch Blaze, the Husky, show you how it is done:
When we respect ourselves, we show others how we need to be valued and respected. Some women can be squemish about that. I consider it a part of having healthy boundaries. How many of you were really taught this in your upbringing? Seriously, I do not know many who were. For many children, it was my way or the highway baby with your parents. Did your parents or siblings ever read your diary or come into your room without knocking or snoop through your stuff? Mine did!
If we repeatedly experience violations of healthy boundaries, we may grow into adulthood not knowing what is appropriate or not. The truth is, boundaries are a learned skill and it took me many years to master this. Trust me, life will surely always provide us with opportunities to practice because people will test you. This is a skill that will change your life.
So the next time, someone says something to you that is hurtful, or is upset with you when you don’t want to do what they want you to do, ask yourself: "How can I establish a healthy and loving boundary for myself that honors me and the other party involved?"
In this world of tight deadlines and distractions, it is important to prioritize quickly and eliminate unnecessary tasks from your day. This is a simple mindset shift that will give you permission to say no to requests and say yes to the right requests. Following are four tips to help you manage your energy more effectively:
- Become proficient and comfortable at saying no. Practice it.
- Ask for help – frequently!
- Challenge shoulds when they surface in your mind.
- Give yourself permission to change your mind at any time! Period.
1 Adapted from “The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal: How to Reclaim, Rejuvenate and Re-Balance Your Life” by Renee Peterson Trudeau