Repeat after me, “I wish I could, but I just can’t right now. No thank you.” Now say, “Thanks for the invite. I’m going to have to pass.” Take a breath, and now out loud, ““I would love to help you, but right now I just can’t.” Or even a simple, direct, “Sorry, can’t make it. I have a conflict.”
Now that wasn’t so bad, was it? It’s that simple–acceptable ways to say no. Say it. Say “no.” In fact for an entire day, no make that and entire week, walk around saying,
- “No, I’m sorry. I can’t make it.”
- “No, thanks. I’m busy.”
- “No, actually that’s not a good time for me.”
- “No, I would prefer you don’t do that.”
Practice. Practice. Practice because half of the battle is just getting used to saying it. And it does get easier with time.
Saying “no” doesn’t equate to anger. Saying “no” won’t kill you. And, even more important, the less often you are saying no, the more likely it is that you should be. It’s about boundaries. If we never say “no” then friends, kids, spouses, families, bosses, essentially everyone in our circle learns to keep asking us. We’re an easy mark. We give in. We agree. We cave in to do things we don’t really want to do. We say yes when we mean no.
Our inability to say “no” costs us and it costs us dearly energetically and emotionally. Over time, any choices we make that are not in alignment with what our intuition or our heart wants, take their toll on our health. Not saying what is true for us affects how we feel about ourselves. It diminishes our confidence and sense of self-worth.
Generally women struggle with this habit more than men. Even so, we all could use some practice in honestly saying no when that’s what we feel, instead of losing ourselves in people-pleasing. Though none of us like to think of ourselves as people-pleasers, that is what we are when we do what others want instead of speaking our truth.
Striving to be kind and generous is a good thing. Being kind is about the other person. About generosity. About giving. People pleasing— well, not so much. People-pleasing is about YOU. It’s about your need to be liked. If you never utter the word “no”, it stems from a desire to not disappoint others or hurt them or just tell them the God’s honest truth for fear of disapproval. Instead you choose to abandon your wants and needs and blurt out “yes,” when deep down you’re screaming “no” silently. It’s “no” that you want to say.
I think we can agree that it IS hard to hear “no” to one of our own requests. But wouldn’t life be oh so much easier if we told each other the truth? If we kindly, yet honestly. said what we want and what we don’t. Personally, I would always rather hear the truth even when it’s hard. Even when it is not w hat I had in mind. I just hope the truth will be told to me directly and kindly.
Granted, sometimes it takes me a few minutes of processing to get comfortable with the rejection to my request. Still I prefer it to being lied to or to having to deal with passive aggressive resentment that I can feel.
This week promise yourself you’ll spout out a solid “no” to at least one request made of you each day. Tell me how it goes. Saying “no” is a learned skill and you just might come to like it!