I NEED TO LEARN HOW TO SAY NO.
I have tried in the past and it is something that I just can’t make stick. I end up feeling guilty, pressured, or selfish and then I go back to my old ways. I guess I think that people will like me more if I help them and do things for them. The thing is – saying yes to everyone is hard on me. I feel like I have no time for myself.
I would love to hear your thoughts. Thanks so much.
Hey Erica, thanks for your question. Saying no is part of setting boundaries and assertive communication skills. And I want you to know – you are not alone in wanting to learn more about it. Most of us struggle, at some point in our lives, in this area. I find it is a skill that is continually evolving as I go through situations with various relationships. First things first – there are some common beliefs about saying no that are unhelpful and you will want to explore those beliefs, so you can shift your thinking about it. This is a good first step!
Belief: You should put others first, otherwise you are just being selfish.
If you have a hard time saying no to others, I am going to guess that you are not a selfish person. And by the way, saying no to someone does not equate to selfishness. It also does not mean you are an asshole. Saying no to someone means that you are showing up authentically in your relationship. No one wants you to show up for them and see that you are unhappy or struggling with your decision – that would feel really terrible for everyone involved. So, do away with this archaic belief that you need to put others first. You can put others first when you have the time, energy, and desire to do so.
Belief: You committed to it, now you should follow through.
When you learn how to say no, there will be fewer instances where you wish you hadn’t! You will become more aligned and aware of what you want/need/expect, and this will lead to confident decision-making. There will always be times when you need to cancel plans in order to take care of yourself. This is OK. Do it in a respectful way and give as much notice as possible. The people who matter the most will understand.
Belief: You should help if you can.
There is a simple bottom line here; if you feel prepared to help physically and emotionally, then definitely do it! There is a lot of research that shows helping others and spreading compassion is just as good for you as it is for the person/cause you are going to be helping. A quick check in with yourself before saying yes might be helpful - if you're feeling hesitant or tired, burnt out, pressured, or guilted into helping, chances are you need to take that time to look after you.
I hope this was a good start on this topic for you!
Naturally, more information, exercises, and support are available to get you on the path of saying “No” and feeling comfortable. To dive deeper, check out the resources on boundaries, or the course on assertive communication called, “Get What You Want”.
Got questions? Submit them on the blog page. I would love to hear from you.