Why is it so hard to say no sometimes?
Are you a people pleaser? Do you find yourself saying “yes” to everyone, even if you don’t want to do something?
For some, it boils down to an eagerness to please. Maybe we are afraid to make someone unhappy if we say no. Perhaps they’ll think less of us, what if they leave?
For some, it’s part of being “the helpful one”. We have established our personality as being the accommodating, helpful, always giving person with never-ceasing reliability. When we know so many people rely on us, we find a sense of importance or worthiness.
When you think about it, we are born with the ability to say no. In fact, you hear it all the time from small children. Toddlers easily voice their opinions and wants. So when did we lose this ease to speak up for ourselves?
A strict upbringing where you have no freedom to be yourself or voice your opinion as child might have formed you into a person who doesn’t use their voice as an adult. People pleasing parents might have drilled into your mind the importance of being kind and selfless and making others around you always happy regardless of how you feel.
In most situations, someone is caught in a situation where they feel loved ONLY if fulfilling someone else’s wishes. Love and respect felt conditional. And we’ve carried that fear on with us all this time.
What are the benefits of saying no?
Being there for others, showing kindness, and being generous are all wonderful things unless it results in the loss of self. How can we live honestly and authentically if we silence our voice? If we bury our wants and needs, how can we learn to become full — fulfilled? How can you ever be your true self?
Your time and energy is limited. It’s up to you to prioritize how to spend it. Sometimes this means allowing yourself to be a priority without feeling selfish. Burnout is real. We can’t be there for others if we are never here for ourself. Saying “no” preserves our time and energy so we can spend it where we choose. It allows us to give ourselves to people and situations that truly deserve our time and gifts.
How to say no
You don’t need an explanation. Maybe it feels kinder to offer your reasons, but that only opens you up to the possibility of someone shooting down perceived excuses or offering other suggestions.
Feel the guilt, but let it go.
When it boils down to it, it’s a situation that you must embrace the uncomfortable.
Say no. Know you’re going to feel bad, but don’t give up. Acknowledge the guilt, but let it go. Many times we overestimate what kind of negative response we might get by saying no. And if we do receive the feared negative response, remember that this is a person showing their lack of respect of your boundaries. If they don’t care about your boundaries and needs, this isn’t a relationship that is deserving of your time, energy, and certainly not your guilt.
If you find yourself still struggling to not say “yes” immediately, establish a rule with yourself that you will not give any answers immediately. Get used to saying “Let me think about it and get back to you”, “I’ll check my schedule and see what I can do” “I’ll let you know by this date if I can do that or not”. This will give you time to see if something fits within your priorities of how to spend your energy, keep you from the knee-jerk “yes” and give you time to breathe and work through the difficulty of saying no when you are ready.
Allow yourself time to reflect, breathe, and sit with yourself. Unravel the “why” saying no is so difficult. What are you afraid of? What do you think will happen?
No judgement. Just learning.