Learning to say “no”
“A ‘No’ uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a ‘Yes’ merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble.” Mahatma Ghandi
If you struggle to say “no,” when you wish you could, have you ever considered the damage your ‘yes,’ can do? Both to you and those around you?
Well, first of all, how could you not begin to resent those asking you for things, favors, etc.? It may seem at first that it’s easier to just say “yes” and do what’s requested. But what is the cost to you and others of this habit? Do you avoid people just so you don’t have to disappoint them? Or convince yourself that you really don’t mind?
One of the things that I have learned over the years working with people who have difficulty saying “no” is that they really do enjoy helping people. And yet, because they feel compelled to say “yes,” they don’t often really get to enjoy their own good nature. When you don’t have a choice to say “yes” or “no,” you miss out on the true pleasure of your own goodness. Over time, this is both painful and exhausting. Feeling truly good about what we do is an energizer whereas feeling obligated is de-energizing. Without the re-energizing “feel good” experiencing of giving out of choice from one’s heart and desire, tasks can become just another source of resentment and exhaustion. Complicating matters further, when someone has a reputation of saying “yes” to everything, most people just assume they like what they are doing and re-double their asking.
If you’re “hoping” that people will stop asking you some day…you are probably going to be sorely disappointed and you might even start feeling angry and resentful. These feelings won’t feel good at all! People won’t stop asking you as long as they continue to get encouraged with your “yes’s.” How are they supposed to read your mind and know it’s time to stop asking?
It might be time to ask yourself, “what would happen if I did say ‘no’?” “Why am I hesitant or fearful to say ‘no’?” The answer to these questions might open the door for meaningful internal change that will benefit both you and your loved ones. What if you could learn when you need to graciously decline a request for the benefit of all those involved. The assumptions that you are making about other people and their requests and behavior might be based on reasoning that doesn’t apply. For example, you might think they are thoughtless and selfish. Well, it’s possible, but it’s also possible that you might be accidentally giving the wrong impression and that they are making assumptions based on your behavior. Now that would be empowering for you as you would then have some ability to make changes that could course correct for all those involved. Perhaps it’s time to consider the value of a well-timed and elegant “no!”