A recurring theme in conversations with busy friends, colleagues and family is how we seem to have difficulty saying “no”, even when we’re tired and need that time for ourself. Saying no used to feel quite difficult but the benefits of saying “no” are definitely worth it but it takes practice! This has become even clearer since having my baby 6 months ago …. time is no longer my own so occasionally saying no to the ‘get to-gether’ with friends, other mums or baby group is a good thing!
The success in saying no is a mixture of the ‘why’ being clear of your needs and prioritising these first and foremost and the ‘how’ explaining calmly, clearly and honestly that the request isn’t something you can support right now.
The first point to consider is how confident you are in putting yourself and your needs first. This isn’t being selfish, it’s more about being really honest with yourself about what you do and don’t want to do and who you do or don’t want to spend your time with. Having clarity here allows you to commit to these choices and to begin living aligned to them rather than going against your natural grain. This is you and your time and your life, living it with kindness and compassion includes being kind to yourself.
There is so much pressure these days to fit in and do more, be all things to all people and always be available which can leave us with very little time for ourselves. Is doing this making you happy? If it is then that’s great, if it isn’t then it might be time for a re-think…..
Something else I’ve come to recognise is that the apprehension of what might happen if we start saying “no” does not often match the actually the reality – most people are reasonable and will listen and accept that it’s allowed and don’t bat an eyelash. Also once you have started to say “no” then it starts to feel normal and will match people’s expectations more realistically. The people that we care about and who genuinely care about us; friends, family, colleagues, will more than likely support us in this change. I asked myself what would I do if someone reasonably said “no” to me, explained why they couldn’t do something for me and they were nice when explaining? I would think it’s totally reasonable and not give it a second thought ….. so why we do we anticipate a lesser reaction from others?
Of course there are always exceptions to the rule; we have all encountered the odd person who doesn’t think it’s ok for you to say “no”, who does expect you to constantly put them first, who will kick up a fuss and question you and not take on board your needs but this is really a separate issue; are these the people that serve you as great friends? Are they really even friends?
Another exception to the rule is that there will, of course, be times when we really want to put ourselves second to support friends or do a favour for someone because they really need it. This is ok, this is what being a kind person is all about, we only stop to reconsider these actions if it becomes the norm and maybe at our own expense.
Finding the right way to say “no” is the way that suits you and your personality. I know some people who are happy to say “no” and do this gently with some reasoning and justification and I also know some people who will just simply say “no” with no explanation because it’s decision and they are happy with it so don’t feel the need to offer justification.
Just do what works for you and how confident you feel the first few times – it soon gets easier, I promise!
If you would like to share your approach to this challenge or have any comments please share below …
Thanks, have a great weekend xx