Saying NO is a form of art. A skill not easily acquired unless you are determined to protect your peace and set healthy boundaries. The word NO carries power. Ironically it’s one of the first words we learn as a toddler and one of the first words we forget when we become adults.
Saying ‘YES’ to things you don’t want to do, is like telling your mind and body, “Sorry but I prioritize others before you”. When you are overwhelmed trying to fit in other people’s plans and commitments, you are sending a message to your body that says, “I just don’t have the time to take care of you”. Your time is just as valuable as anyone else’s. Make sure you treat it as such.
Saying No Isn’t Easy
But let’s not kid ourselves. Saying NO is not easy, especially if you have spent most of your life being a people pleaser (Colleene I’m looking at you). In the past, I was one too. In fact, I like to refer to myself as a recovering people pleaser. I don’t know where this need stemmed from. Maybe from trying to be the perfect daughter, or trying to be liked in school. However, I can proudly say I have mastered the skill of saying NO. It’s so liberating to just not have to do things I simply don’t want to do.
Don’t get me wrong, realistically, there are things like cooking, laundry, and going to work, that I rather not do, (especially when I’m in the middle of a good book) but as I don’t own a magic wand (yet), then saying no is not an option.
When saying yes instead of saying no, makes you feel miserable, anxious and just plain angry with yourself, please know that I’ve been there myself. Don’t despair, there are ways to say no without being disrespectful, whilst honouring yourself and your time.
How To Say No Respectfully
Saying no doesn’t need to be complicated. On the contrary, it’s quite simple, even if at first it makes you feel discomfort. It doesn’t mean you need to stop being kind to others, but primarily be kind to yourself. Don’t let others take advantage of your kindness. You can still be kind and caring and help others without compromising your own needs and mental health.
Ways to Say No without upsetting anyone, whilst still honouring yourself:
- I’m sorry I already have plans. Maybe some other time
- That’s so kind of you, however, I won’t be able to this time around
- This isn’t a good time for me
- I have been so busy lately, I need to prioritise some downtime for myself
- Thank you for thinking of me, but I have to kindly turn down your offer
OR you can simply say,
- Thanks, but no thanks! (this one is the no I use the most)
It’s Not Your Responsibility To Hand Out Explanations
We often feel like we need to explain ourselves to others in order to not offend anyone, or let them down. I stopped giving explanations to those who are not particularly close to me. It doesn’t sit well with me anymore, plus more often than not, people are not concerned about your explanation anyway. In many cases, you will find that when you are straightforward and honest, others will respect you. Furthermore, you will respect yourself.
You can say NO without feeling guilty. You are not responsible for others’ perception of you. Learning to say no, without explanations or guilt will allow you to create space in your life for all those things that bring you joy and contribute to your growth as a human being.
THREE Steps To Make Saying NO Easier
Let’s have a look at these three steps that will help you say no and prioritise your time!
STEP 1: Plan your month with all the stuff you want to do!
Buy yourself a calendar or planner. At the beginning of every month, plan and write down all the stuff YOU want to do. All those things that make you happy. Make a list of your goals and ensure you make the time to commit to them. They are YOUR goals after all and should take precedence over everything else.
STEP 2: What’s the worst thing that can happen if you say NO? Make A List (a realistic one)
Seriously what is it? Stop and consider what saying yes takes out of your day. Does it get in the way of your own plans? Does it mean sacrificing your own time for others? What will happen if you say no? You will upset someone? And? So what? Chances are they will appreciate your honesty. And if it turns out that saying no to someone you care about results in them being upset, then that person doesn’t truly care about you. They probably care more about their own needs than yours. Not to mention they might be used to having you say yes all the time. Change of behaviour, especially when it involves self-care isn’t always well received.
Here is my list of why I fear (or rather, feared) saying NO!
- Fear of missed opportunities
- Scared of hurting someone’s feelings
- Afraid of being considered selfish by others
- Fear of not being liked
- Worried about others’ poor opinion of me
STEP 3: Make a list of your TOP priorities
Simply put, write down those things you want to prioritise above everything else and make time for them. This is what my list looks like;
- I prioritise time for myself (reading, working out, meditating, writing, and anything and everything that brings me joy).
- My time with my family – primarily my children and my husband.
- Time with my friends, those that put a smile on my face and bring me joy and positive vibes only (not every friend will have a positive impact on your life, it’s a hard pill to swallow)
- I make time for my goals and work towards my dreams.
Benefits Of Setting Healthy Boundaries
Setting up healthy boundaries is one of the greatest forms of self-love. It will help you build a trusting relationship with yourself and others. When you feel burnt out or overwhelmed, take a day or two. Recharge your batteries. Your body and mind will thank you for it.
Take the time to get to know yourself. Be clear on what you want, your goals, your values and your belief system.
Stick to your values and watch as your self-esteem grows. Your mental health will improve and you will find a certain kind of peace that only comes when you learn how to value yourself above all else.
Are you a people pleaser yourself? How have you dealt with situations where saying yes has brought you grief? We would love to hear about your own experiences.
When you start saying NO, soak up how that feels. Our time on earth is limited. Once it’s gone you can’t get it back.
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