This is an article I’ve been thinking about for a while now. And since my last Investing in Yourself post has been published some time ago, I decided there’s no time like the present! So today we’re debating just why it’s so important to learn to say no.
I think a lot of us think it much more often than we actually say it. And my hope is that reading this will help encourage you to take action where needed, in order to shape a more positive life. Starting with the word “No” 🙂
Learn to say no to situations you don’t want to be in
You know the kind of situation I mean: the one that your gut is telling you is very wrong. Or at least very wrong for you!
It can be as major as choosing a career path that leaves you cold, just to please a parent. Or as minor as agreeing to go out clubbing, when all you wanted was sleeeep. Or taking on “just this one little extra project” at work, when you know you’re spread thin already.
My point is:
If your mind is screaming “No”, and you’re forcing your lips to push out a “Yes”, that needs to stop. For the very simple reason that at that point you are taking on a burden. An extra effort that will negatively affect your time, your budget, your wellness etc.
And the worst thing is, the other person may not even realize it!
Now of course, I’m not advocating you become a hermit, or a surly employee who never wants to pitch in. What I do mean is that saying no sometimes, instead of always doing things just to please someone else, will make you happier long term.
Letting your girlfriends know you need a quiet weekend, and that you’ll join them next time, does not make you a bad friend. Reasonably explaining to your cousin that you can only join 2 of her 4 pre-wedding parties without going broke does not make you selfish.
In fact, proposing a counter offer or alternative solution makes your refusal easier to swallow. It also shows you are secure enough to choose the option that suits you best at that time, while also taking the other person into consideration. Win-win!
Learn to say no to people who hurt you
Now, as a follow up from my first point-if a person tries to aggressively guilt-trip or full on bully you into doing something you firmly said no to, take a step back. That sort of behavior is emotional manipulation, and it will not come from someone who loves you.
Because, get this:
Nobody is actually entitled to your time, your feelings or your energy. These are all parts of yourself that you choose to share with certain people in your life. The ones who should earn and appreciate them.
If you notice they don’t, speak up. Give them the benefit of a doubt, sure. But if the behavior becomes repetitive, take some time to consider how it’s affecting you. Reassess your relationshiop with that person, and stand up for yourself.
It’s hard at first, but the long term results will be a more confident and happier you!
Learn to say no to information overload
I actually started writing the post with this idea in mind.
More and more, I feel like we’re on constant information overload. Our brains are pulled in a million directions, trying to assimilate news on TV, deadlines at work, social media blasts, texts, bills, traffic jams, appointments, events… It’s overwhelming!
Constantly using electronic devices, feeling like we’re apparently connected with the whole world 24/7, is actually harming us. It can make us in fact feel more exhausted, depressed and alone, and less able to focus and connect.
So breaking away from the cycle of information, especially online, is something necessary from time to time. A day of pause from constantly staring at a screen will not only help your eyes, but your mind and your mood too.
And of course, these breaks look different for everyone. For me, they usually come in the form of going out for a bike ride. Or going for a dinner date with my husband, no phones, no distractions. Or even falling down the rabbit hole of a gripping book.
What does stepping off the hamster wheel of constant information look like for you?
Learn to say no to your fears and insecurities
This, I feel, is a big one. Because it’s perhaps the most difficult time to learn to say no- when it’s to your darkest insecurities about yourself.
And I’ve been there myself. Which is why I know just how important it is to battle your own mind sometimes, and say a firm “No” to damaging, deep-seated complexes. Because it will never be easy, but it will always be worth it.
Our insecurities often form in our childhood, and last much longer. They can manifest in many forms: like self deprecation, inability to cope, even self hatred or self abuse. But most importantly, they manifest by taking away the beauty of so many moments.
The good part is you can work on steadying your mind when it starts going down that dark path. There are breathing exercises, aromatherapy, meditation, yoga, physical activities-all different techniques you can employ, that can make a huge difference.
But whenever it’s an issue too big for you to handle on your own, seek an outside specialist! They are professionals in their field for a reason, and they can save you a lot of time and frustration in overcoming anxieties and fears.
Learn to say no to… saying “No”.
Now this may seem a bit counterintuitive, considering this article is meant to empower you to say “No” more often. But there are also times when saying no can actually hold you back- and they’re actually, in part, tied to the point above.
It’s the times when you choose to say no because it’s the safe option. The one that marks the border of your comfort zone-one that’s worth crossing every now and again!
For example: maybe you say no to bungee jumping, because you’re scared of heights. Or maybe you say no every time you’re asked to a party where you don’t know anyone. Or every time you’re invited to a new restaurant with an impossibly exotic cuisine.
Or maybe you just say no to wearing a bold, baroque print dress just because it’s so… out there! Even though inside you’re dieing to wear it, and you would love to give it a (t)whirl.
As opposed to the first type of scenarios, these are ones that would actually benefit you, and ones you may actually be excited to try, deep down. But because they feel so new, and so wildly different than your usual choices, it’s easier to just say no.
So how about next time you feel a little thrill at the idea of a new, slightly scary proposition, you say yes? It may open a new door for you, one that you will thank yourself later for not closing shut.
I hope this post was indeed helpful to you, and that now you feel a bit more prepared to say “No” next time the situation requires it. I’m curious to also know: are you someone who easily says no? Or is it more of an acquired skill for you?
It definitely was one for me.