Just say no.
Easy to say and hard to do.
Or at least for me. For as long as I can remember I have struggled with this tiny two letter word.
How can one word hold so much power over me?
Finally at age 54 (did I just say that) I have come to realize that I am afraid of saying no. You might be thinking, “afraid of what?”
Where do I start. I am afraid that people won’t like me. And, I am afraid that people will be angry with me or that I will somehow disappoint when I say no. Perhaps I will let someone down or stand in the way of someone getting what they need or what they want.
Maybe I’m just weak. Or, is it possible that I am still a wounded little girl who still believes she cannot say no?
Could it be habit? Or, at times, I am quite simply too tired to defend the why behind saying no.
It is none of the above and all of the above depending on the day. Regardless, the reason doesn’t matter. What matters is that I have always had a hard time saying no.
In and of itself, no is just a word. But when coupled with a million different situations we often face in life, it is one of the most powerful and important words any one of us will say. Or not say.
Sadly, an inability to say no has created problems in my life and in talking to others and their life journeys, it has led to heartache, regret and grief. I understand and have felt the same.
Ugh. Why is saying it so hard? It doesn’t make sense to avoid saying no if it would make life easier and if, in the end, we could avoid moments of heartache and grief.
Granted, there are times when it is better to say YES. Sometimes no stands in the way of taking that trip, following a dream, taking a chance or simply enjoying the moment. Sometimes we need to say yes to change even though it is hard. There are plenty of times in life when saying yes can lead to happiness and joy. And, there are those difficult situations in life when saying yes can literally change your life.
Evidently, I am really good at saying yes and while I can think of a lot of amazing things that have happened in life because I said yes, there are equally plenty of times that I wish I would have said no.
An inability to say no has led to exhaustion because I was simply spread to thin. It meant having too much on my plate leaving me feeling overwhelmed and stressed. There have been times when I didn’t say it and I did things I would later regret. An inability to say no has led to mistakes, health issues, a loss of balance in my life, chaos, financial troubles, a lack of boundaries for myself and yes, sometimes for my kids, loss, shame and sadness. The list could go on.
Have you felt that way? Do you have a hard time saying no even when you know you should? Has avoidance of the word created problems in your life?
If so, it is worth paying very close attention to this little two letter word that can pack a very big punch when you least expect it. Simply stated, this powerful word, when ignored, can knock you down.
The good news? Anyone can learn to say no and create better boundaries in and around his or her life. Here are some things to think about:
- Be self-aware. Self-awareness is key if one wants to make changes. It is impossible to change something if you are not aware that there is a problem in the first place. Start with paying attention to your words. How often do you say no? Have you ever felt like you should say it but for some reason you don’t? Is it hard for you to say no? If saying it is difficult for you it is important that you try to figure out why. Like many things in life, there are usually reasons behind our behaviors.
- Shift your perspective. We have all heard the saying that “perception is everything” and often times, it is. Different people look at different situations through different filters and lenses. Focus on how you perceive things. Are you looking at it from a positive or negative perspective? Is saying “no” to your child being mean or is it teaching them a valuable life lesson or keeping them safe? Is saying no to going to a party being anti-social and rude or is it taking care of yourself because you need to get some rest and spend a night at home? These are just a couple of examples but it is imperative that you find a way to evaluate the situation and make the right decision.
- It is okay to be selfish. There are times when we need to put ourselves first. Life is incredibly busy and hectic. It is easy to spread ourselves too thin and to keep filling up our plates when we have nothing more to give. Make it a goal to create a life that has balance in it. Get plenty of rest, eat right, exercise, make time to do those things you love and that matter the most. Learn to say no more often. It is okay to say no and you don’t need to feel guilty about it.
- Think about the consequences. Ask yourself if the guilt, shame, anxiety or regret you could feel is worth it when you don’t say no. Obviously, things are not always a big deal that can lead to horrible negative emotions but sometimes an inability to say it can lead to huge consequences. Think before you act.
- Believe in yourself and work on building your confidence. A lack of confidence and insecurity sometimes led me to make bad choices and led to consequences. Difficulty in saying no was a part of that trend. In addition, I somehow had come to believe that I couldn’t say no to certain things. A life long people pleaser only added to my challenges. I didn’t want anyone to be mad and certainly didn’t want to be disliked. All of the above led to problems with the word no.
- Create boundaries. Figure out what those boundaries are and then love yourself enough to say no and stay within those boundaries. Boundaries are important and can protect ourselves and others. In most cases, people will respect you more if you can learn to say no.
Just say no. Again, easy to say and hard to do. With that being said, it is so important. Saying it more often can literally change your life in ways you cannot imagine. Learning to say no can lead to a happier, simplified and peaceful life. There are times to say yes and there are times to say no. And, the beauty is that in most situations you get to choose. Choose well.
In short, this one simple word can lead to freedom and that my friends, is something worth saying no for.
In Peace and With Love,