Having spent most of my life as a people-pleaser, it’s always been a challenge for me to say no. This inability meant I would often take on too much or end up doing things that really didn’t float my boat or fill me with joy.
Have you ever found yourself in the same position?
Going to dinner at a friend’s house when you really just wanted to stay home and chill in your PJs with a good book; Accepting a piece of cake when you were trying to eat more healthily or agreeing to make cookies for the school fete when you were up to your ears in work.
Have you found yourself in situations you’d rather have avoided because you didn’t want to upset anybody or have them think less of you?
I’ve often wanted to decline but have been too afraid that I might disappoint somebody or hurt their feelings. I’ve since realised that I need to live my life for me and not for others and therefore I make decisions about my own wellbeing without feeling guilt. Saying no doesn’t make me a bad person and actually it makes me a much more effective one because I don’t end up juggling too many balls.
Realising it’s okay to say no has also helped me make a giant leap on my self-love journey. I don’t need to go through life looking for people’s approval. I know my own worth and I am always enough regardless of the decisions I take.
If I’m honest, I still find it hard to say ‘No’ outright. It makes me wince and I have been know to immediately follow the ‘No’ with a flurry of excuses which on reflection makes me feel worse than I would have if I’d stuck to the blatant ‘No’. (See my earlier blog, Sorry, Not Sorry)
So, instead I’ve learnt some strategies which help me to say ‘No’ without being overly apologetic.
One of my strategies is to ignore requests completely. I’m often bombarded with messages from strangers asking me to try a product, a service, attend a ‘life-changing’ webinar or come along to some event or other. Although these messages are often personalised, I choose to ignore them rather than responding. It’s just easier that way.
If I do need to say ‘no’ directly, I find that injecting a little humour into it can help soften the blow for the other person (and me). I’ll say ‘No Sireee’ or ‘Nada, no can do’ with a big smile and then just remain silent. If the person persists I will add ‘I just can’t commit right now.’
I’ll often weigh up the pros and cons. If saying yes will make me stressed, significantly increase my working hours or make me straight out resentful, then I recognise that saying no will be more beneficial. Somehow, doing the analysis makes it easier for me to say no and not feel the pangs of guilt.
I don’t lie. I have done previously. It’s easy to fall into the trap of making an excuse for saying no by fabricating a reason why, but actually it just leads to me feeling worse. Equally, I don’t put things off. If I don’t want to do it, I won’t say I’ll think about it. It just makes it more difficult to refuse next time.
Saying no is challenging for many, including me, but it’s also liberating and good for our mental health, freeing us from stress, resentment and anxiety so it’s so worth it and so are we.
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