Why do we find it so hard to say no? Here’s why saying no is the nicest thing you can do… for YOURSELF!
Have you ever stopped to look at how our lives are filled with so many requests from other people? Helping a co-worker out with their workload, coffee catch ups, birthdays, helping a friend move house, babysitting, family gatherings? The list goes on.
So why is it that when we have so many competing requests for our time in our already busy lives; managing our own career, keeping fit and healthy, managing a relationship with our partner (or looking for one!), running your own household, and just trying to keep your head above water, that we find it so hard to say no to people?
Well, here’s the thing. As humans and particularly for females we have this innate response to avoid conflict and not to hurt another person. But, and here’s the other thing, as human beings and again particularly for women we are also fantastic at assuming! Who said that saying no is going to cause conflict or hurt someone? At least not the world is ending or the sky is falling in kind of scenario.
Stop and think about it for a minute.
Have you ever invited a friend to your house for dinner or asked a co-worker to help you with your pile of ever growing work and they have said no? Of course you have, we’ve all had other people say no to us. So let’s say that this friend of yours said to you “Sorry Jane, as much as I would love to come, I can’t make it to dinner, I’m just feeling run down and so tired from a 50-hour week at work. I really need some time at home to rest”.
Would you feel hurt or would this cause huge conflict by them not attending? Of course yes you might be a little bit disappointed that you won’t get to spend time with them, but isn’t it actually a caring thing as a friend to want to support and nurture them and help them to look after themselves by staying at home?
Now let’s flip the scenario and talk about you. When was the last time you actually first thought about looking after yourself and your needs before just launching in and saying yes to things?
I know it sounds kind of selfish at first, but if you don’t look after yourself and operate on all cylinders, then how can you expect to do so for others?
Grab a pen and paper or your tablet and reflect on the last month of your life. Write down how many things you did that didn’t serve you, didn’t fulfil you or you felt you “just had to do” – not because you wanted to. And how many times did you think to yourself “Wow I’d love a weekend off” or “I wish my work week was less hectic so I could have some me time and get to the gym”?
There’s a fair few right?
You see, it is so very easy for us to say yes to people and to try and please others, but shouldn’t we stop and look at ourselves first before we get our Florence Nightingale pants on and do everything and be everything for everyone else?
When did we become the least important person in our own lives?
So what is the learning in all of this? Well as Tim Ferris (the author of the “Four Hour Work) so eloquently puts it “what you don’t do determines what you can do”. So the next time someone asks you for something stop and take a deep breath before you respond. I most definitely agree that saying no can be hard, but with practice, trust me, it gets easier.
Here are some of my tips for learning to say no:
1. To start off, if saying no is completely foreign to you, then try saying no but also proposing an alternate option. This way you are offering something instead of just an outright no.
2. When someone asks you for something, you don’t have to respond straight away. Let them know you’d like to think about it and get back to them. There is nothing worse than being put on the spot.
3. Before responding to any requests, take some deep cleansing breaths and ask yourself what is right for you.
4. Ask yourself, how bad will it really be if I say no? And then how bad will the guilt or disappointment be (or whatever feeling comes up) and is it worth doing whatever is asked of you in order not to feel that?
5. Start small. When you’re ordering your next coffee and the barista asks if you want that muffin (that you didn’t go in to order in the first place), say no.