The Answer is NO

Just say no, it’s easy.

How many times have we heard that throughout our lives? The fact of the matter is it’s tough to say no sometimes, especially if there are expectations or perceived repercussions. It is common for people to say yes to things as a means of avoiding perceived confrontation on conflict. On the other hand, some people worry about saying no as they do not want to hurt someone’s feelings or disappoint.

Regardless of the reason, the more that we avoid saying no, the more we become susceptible to overcommitting and getting involved with things we truly have no interest in. This can lead to increased anxiety and stress, as the more time you spend doing things for other people, the less perceived time you have to focus on your own personal goals.

Learning to say NO can:

  • Boost your self-confidence by advocating for your boundaries and rules in a relationship (e.g. at work or with friends).
  • Helps to value ourselves more by prioritising where we spend our time and energy.
  • Allows for a higher sense of control over your life.
  • Helps us to stay true to our authentic self.
  • Can manage unwanted stress and anxiety that may be derived from the undesirable situation

One of the biggest factors that influences our propensity to say yes or no is people pleasing. Perhaps we think of ourselves as an overall helpful person and that is somewhat central to our identity. This can become a sense of importance to us and in turn makes us feel valuable. On the other hand, maybe we were raised in a household where this type of behaviour was modelled for us and it was considered normal to put others needs above your own. Perhaps there were consequences for disobeying rules earlier in your life and disobeying requests resulted in punishment. All three of these examples can lead to us becoming people pleasers.

Signs that you’re are a people pleaser:

  • It is difficult to identify your own needs and wants however you can ascertain other people’s relatively easily.
  • You do not like conflict and would rather go along with what someone has to say rather than disagree to keep the peace.
  • You pretend to agree with things despite thinking differently.
  • You struggle to say no at work when asked to take on more responsibility/new projects despite not having the resources to do so.

How to say NO

Learning to value and prioritise ourselves by saying no more can be achieved through assertive communication. This is a style of communication that involves standing up for your own needs and wants, while taking into consideration the needs and wants of others without behaving aggressively or passively.

1: Respect yourself

Firstly, respect yourself, your rights, needs and wants are just as important as anyone else’s and it is absolutely fine to communicate what you want as long as it is done respectfully towards the rights of others.

2: Be aware

Secondly, its is impossible to make everyone happy all of the time. Having awareness and acceptance of this means that in taking action to say no, we are validating the limits of our capacity to be helpful (and that is okay!).

3: Don’t offer an excuse

Finally, when saying no, you do not need to offer an excuse and it is better to avoid lying as well. Instead, if you feel compelled to justify your decision, offer to help find another solution.

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