The Power & Importance of Saying "NO"
Photo © Ernest Brillo
Women are known to say, "Yes" to helping a friend, neighbour and a loved-one before helping ourselves. It's in our DNA! Even though we are natural givers, social conditioning is a better explanation for the guilt we feel when we say no.
The good news is you can overcome this conditioning and learn when and how to say no.
Never feel guilty when "NO" happens to be your answer. I know we've been taught our whole lives that saying no is selfish. It just isn't true. If you say yes to everything, you will be overworked and filled with stress. Then, you won't be of use to anyone - your boss, your children, spouse or yourself. Stand your ground in your decisions, and you will have a more balanced life.
Once you learn to say no, you will have more time to yourself. No, this doesn't make you selfish, either. You work hard. You're a great mother, wife, friend and employee. You deserve to spend time doing the things you want to do. You can get back to hobbies you miss doing or find new ones. You can simply relax and focus on self-care. It doesn't matter what you decide to do in your free time; you do not owe anyone an explanation.
Reduce Stress & Anxiety
I know it can be stressful to say no, but that stress is fleeting. If you are struggling to balance the life you already have, saying yes to every project or favour that comes your way is only going to make it worse. The more stress you have, the more likely you are to develop more severe symptoms, physically and cognitively. Symptoms include headaches, chest pain, trouble sleeping, ringing in the ear, grinding teeth, poor focus, impaired judgment, bad memory and the list goes on. To avoid negative stress, say no to the things that will push your work-life balance over the edge.
Straighten Your Priorities
You're saying no, you have more time for yourself and you're still stressed out! Well, it might be time to reassess what is important in your life. For example, if you're saying yes to everything at work and no to everything at home, there's bound to be conflict. To help guide your decisions, make a list each area of your life and rank them from most to least important. Think about your current schedule and choices. Do the ranks match the allotted time for each category? If family is more important than work, you should be saying yes to date night with your spouse and no to working late that night. The list helps you to keep it all in perspective. Visuals will make it easier to see the changes you need to make.
Saying no doesn't mean you have to be insensitive or rude, and you shouldn't say it all the time. However, your automatic response should not be yes, which I know is the case for many of us. You should weigh your options. Is this something you want to do? What are the benefits if I agree? Give an honest answer based on a variety of criteria such as length of commitment, current schedule restraints and stress factor of the activity in question. Let the asking party down easy with phrases such as "I appreciate you asking, but I can't do it right now," or "I'm going to say no for now. I'll let you know if something changes."
It's going to be hard at first, but you can do it. It took years of conditioning to make you uncomfortable with standing up for yourself, and you won't be comfortable right away just because you have your mind set on it. It takes practice. But you are worth it. Your happiness and the happiness of those you care about depend on it.