Marge lies sleepless in her bed.
How on Earth can she squeeze mum’s birthday party into her already heavy schedule?
Starring wearily into the darkness, she struggles to solve a futile time puzzle.
Marge wants to help everyone.
Take care of the neighbour’s cats while she’s on vacation?–“Ok, no problem.”
Clean up mum’s refrigerator today?–“Sure, mum. On my way.”
Deal with partner’s tax problems?–“I’m on.”
Saying no is rarely an option.
How She Survives an Overload?
By saying No to herself–her needs, wishes and dreams. Things she wants to do vanish from her schedule, one by one, to give place to other people’s stuff.
Sounds familiar to you?
Saying Yes while your Inner Voice screams No into your brain’s ear. How does it make you feel?
Conflicted, used and resentful?
That’s how Marge feels.
And unhappy, too.
Why No is So Damn Hard to Say?
Let me tell you a story.
As a kid, I was taught that love has to be earned.
Please mummy by doing what she asks. Show good manners, grades and goodwill. And she’ll bestow you with love.
Put yourself first by saying No to her, and “enjoy” a punishment ride. Silence or scolding depending on her moods. And a sure bucket of humiliation and shame.
“Saying No is bad” burned deep into my brain changing its supple architecture.
Is it just me?
No, there’s deeper reasons, too.
Any negative message turns on the alarm lights in your brain that’s wired to response stronger to potential danger. That’s why No has almost always a bigger impact as a soothing Yes.
Does it mean you should avoid saying No?
3 Life Lessons I Learned
Being able to say No is essential for your well-being and crucial for your relationships.
Because it helps to protect your boundaries and unclutter your calendar for things that matter to you.
Here’s what I learned:
- Know your limits. What you allow people to do for or to you, and what not. And vice versa.
- Know what you need and want for yourself. Write it down and keep at hand as a perpetual reminder.
- Learn to balance your needs and wishes with needs and wishes of other people. Tricky in the beginning, it will get easier with time.
You can only give when your glass is full.
Now Say It
Start with the easiest situations and progress to the most challenging ones.
Make a list similar to this:
- A salesman from my telephone company keeps offering an expensive service I don’t need.
- A neighbour wants me to take care of her cats, again.
- A friend wants to spend time with me in the middle of a busy week.
- My daughter expects me to babysit her kids tomorrow.
- Mother wants me to clean her porch this weekend.
- My partner invited me to go with him on a business trip next week.
Before Saying No remember to:
➢ Be kind, empathetic and respectful.
Nobody enjoys getting a No. Show that you hear him and sympathise with his situation.
➢ Make a direct, short and clear statement.
Don’t apologise or defend yourself. Don’t ask “Would be ok if…” or “Don’t you think…” “Maybe I could…”. You will just confuse yourself and another person.
➢ Add something positive to mitigate negativity.
Thank her for thinking of you. Tell him that you know how much he appreciates your company. Or offer an alternative, “What about next week?”
➢ Give a brief reason for your no (if you wish).
Stuff like work, busy family schedule and previous obligations. Or personal issues like health, lack of skills or interest.
As John Gottman’s research on couple’s happiness showed, you need five positive responses to neutralise a negative one.Click To Tweet
Let’s try together.
- “Thank you for the offer, but I don’t need this service. Please, stop calling.”
- “Looking after your cats next week? That’s a horrible timing, Jaen. I have too much on my plate already.”
- “Sorry, Susie, but my schedule is gem-full. Next time, perhaps.”
- “Looking after the kids tomorrow night? Sorry, love, but I can’t. I already have plans. (Could do it next week, though.)”
- “Sorry mum, but I can’t help you this weekend. We’re going out of town. Let’s find another day.”
- “Thanks’ for thinking of me, love. But I can’t clear up my schedule at the moment. Maybe next time.”
Is it Yes or is it No?
Uncertain what to say?
Give yourself time. For example, “Let me think about it. I’ll let you know tomorrow afternoon.”
Check your calendar and listen to your gut.
How full is your glass?
Prepare your answer.
“I Said No, Now What?”
“He won’t love me anymore”. A choking fear of rejection grabs you by the throat. Throwing you into a downward spiral of self-doubt and regrets. I-have-to-fix-it-now-no-matter-what-fever.
A choking fear of rejection grabs you by the throat. Tossing you into a spiral of self-doubt and regret. I-have-to-fix-it-now-no-matter-what-fever.
I’ve been there too. But here’s the truth.
Although a No might make you unpopular for a while, it’s not the end of the world.
Think for a moment, what do you do when somebody says No to you? Do you tear her hair off? Or do you crash his precious train models with a hammer?
I bet not.
They’re reasonable people, too.
Let them come to terms with their feelings. You’re not responsible for them. They are.
And they will not stop loving you.
In fact, saying no will make your relationships stronger.
Because you say No to an idea or a circumstance, not to the relationship itself.
Saying and hearing No is a part of a learning process and a foundation of an equal relationship.
Put Yourself First
When you say no to something, it creates space for something else.
Do you want to sacrifice your happiness on the altar of pleasing for the rest of your life?
I thought no.
Clean up your space and calendar today.
Say no to intrusive requests that disagree with your needs, wishes and dreams.
Put yourself first.
People will find other solutions.
You will find that your partner is still there, friends are still your friends, and your mum still loves you, girl.The most important obligations you have are obligations to yourself.Click To Tweet