Can you learn how to say no without feeling guilty? Yes, you can! Because I learned how, and so can you. It just takes practice.
There is no reason to feel guilty about saying no to people, especially when you have a lot of other things going on in your life.
As bloggers and people who work from home, there may be people in your life who think that because you are home all day that you have time to take care of their stuff. Let’s fix that.
This post was originally published August 9th, 2017 and has been updated to be current with new information. This post may contain affiliate links. If you click a link and make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you. Full disclosure is here.
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Learning How To Say No Instead Of Always Saying Yes
In order to stop doing all things for all people, we will have to focus on learning how to say no…and mean it.
Moms say yes all the time because they are afraid that saying no will cause a tantrum. I get that. My daughter threw a few tantrums in her day. I had to differentiate whether she was tired or cranky enough to have a fit before we went shopping.
Gotta weigh the pros and cons, right?
Sometimes we say yes because we think we can, and later discover we’re overbooked or something similar.
However, if you say “yes” a lot, but then back out at the last minute (also a lot), then there is another issue.
You might want to look at why you say yes to people when you do not want to or why you say yes and then do not follow through.
Let us look at why we say yes when we don’t really want to
People who constantly say yes, and then neglect themselves or their work, are known as people-pleasers. Yes, there’s a label for almost everything, but we have to start somewhere.
Many times, if people-pleasers do get around to doing things for themselves, they feel guilty about that too!
This type of behaviour is based in the mistaken belief that others people’s needs and wants are more important than their own.
People pleasers feel obligated to help, and this obligation overrides their innate desire to say NO. They may believe that no one will like them if they say no, and this is a mistake.
The other camp is occupied by people who say yes, and then cancel appointments or dates at the last minute.
Instead of saying “No”, and being alright about it, they say yes.
Instead of saying “No” to someone else, they say no to themselves. Then later they flip the situation, after they were counted on to attend.
I have a friend who does this all.the.time. It is annoying and frustrating and I stopped asking because…why bother? If you ask her about it, it’s all very innocent. But that is not how I felt about it when she ditched me.
I felt rejected. Like the kid who gets picked last for school sports.
And even if they know that they are not going to attend the event right after they say yes, they still wait until the last minute to cancel. Not only is that insensitive, because they may now be counting on your attendance, but it is rude.
And no one wants to be that person.
Many women do this when dating.
You may have a mistaken belief that you somehow owe your date something because he was kind enough to invite them out. You “owe him” your company until you feel that you have paid him back enough, or something equally weird.
FYI: going on dates, even if the other person pays for everything, does not obligate you to continuing to date that person.
If you have this problem, then set rules before you go on your first date, like that you will go “dutch treat”. Or go somewhere free, like a walk in a public park or free outdoor concert.
Both of these types of people are not looking at their own needs before saying yes.
So how can you learn to say no? When I got rejected by my friend for the umpteenth time, I took a hard look at myself. I wanted to know if I was the same kind of person.
Because I didn’t want to be.
I paid attention to my gut reaction when an invitation appeared. That meant, for me, deciding who I wanted to accept invitations from. Once I settled that, I felt justified saying “no” a lot more often.
But first I needed the courage to say no.
7 Great Tips To Help You Learn How To Say No To People
Practice in front of the mirror. Yes, I felt like a fool…at first. But practicing saying no was a lot easier than I thought it would be.
A good starting point is figuring out what reasons you might need to not say yes, based on your past invitations. Many workplaces have that person who is always trying to get people to do stuff. Start there.
Look into your own eyes and say the words out loud:
- No, I cannot make it.
- I have other commitments that morning/afternoon/evening/day
- That date does not work for me
- I’m not available for that
These are all quite generic responses, but they get the job done. No need to elaborate on why, just stick with basic information.It may feel strange at first, and you may want to practice when you are home alone (the cat does not count).
And while you are at it, look into your eyes and try saying “It is okay for me to say no”.
Really, get on board with that idea. You will enjoy your life more!
2. Try saying no to some simple things first, and build up your resolve.
Try to stop the habit of saying yes right away without thinking about the consequences first. This can be hard, especially if you have been conditioned, by others or yourself, but it is do-able.
It is said that you can change any bad habit in 21 days, but the key is to practice daily.
Tell the person that you need to
- Check your calendar
- That you have to think about it
- You will get back to them later.
You want to have a clear idea of what things you know you should say no to; for example, if you do not like large crowds then do not agree to go to the carnival or a concert.
3. You have the right to say no.
Being able to say no is a sign of confidence and being assertive about your needs and desires is a plus, and is in no way being selfish.
You do not even have to explain yourself!
If you feel that you must, a generic response is “I am not available for that”.
When someone invites you to something or asks you to do something, think about the impact of that on your life.
Will helping out enhance your life, or will going to the event serve you in anyway?
If it helps you to network with others, or fulfill a need in your life, you may want to say yes, even if it puts your schedule out of whack.
If it is an event that will aggravate something in your life, then say no.
You do not need to say yes just because you are capable of doing something, or helping someone.
Perhaps you can help them with something else or at another time.
4. Start paying attention to what matters to you and your life.
If you constantly say yes to others, but no to yourself, this will also chip away at your self-esteem and it becomes hard to trust yourself.
I grasped this concept when I read an article a couple of years ago about people who start projects and then do not complete them. As I have been de-cluttering, I am discovering all of my unfinished projects. Sigh.
When you start a project, you probably say things to yourself, either in your head or out loud, about how great it will be for your life when it is completed.
Then, when you look at your half-finished projects, it is proof for your subconscious that you are untrustworthy.
You cannot keep promises to yourself.
Especially if you look at them every day. Bad for the self-esteem.
I collected all my half or never started projects and gave them to the thrift store. Now I actively seek out little projects that enhance who I want to be, but also that I have time to work on or complete.
5. Prioritize your time.
Decide what kind of life that you want, and then how you are going to achieve it. This goes double for people who work from home, where procrastination lives.
Set a schedule for your blogging work, and stick to it. If that leaves only one hour a day to help others, then so be it.
Their requests must fit in to your life.
There are always exceptions, such as emergencies or unforeseen events, but for the most part the people in your life will adapt to your schedule over time.
I know that since I created work and posting schedules, my life is easier.
I get up at the same time every day, and go to bed at the same time nightly, so I am properly rested (yet another thing that I had to learn!).
I allow myself to catch up on Facebook and email for 30 minutes after I get up, while having coffee. And then I get down to work.
I allow myself x-number of hours each day for work and research and the rest of my day is up to me.
As my schedule has evolved over time, I realize how much time I am actually spending on writing and researching, so I can be more flexible for other people if need be. And I am happy. My life is much simpler and I feel at peace!
6. Realize that saying no is setting healthy boundaries.
If saying yes makes you feel like a victim, resentful and burdened, then it is in your best interests to say no and release some stress.
If you know that you have a deadline in your posting schedule, and that saying yes will obligate you to several hours away from your work, then you need to decide if saying yes is the right option.
7. Say yes when you really mean it!
People will see you as dependable, and someone that they can count on to do a good job because you actually want to do it.
If your heart is not in it, then you will not be giving your best.
This is part of trusting your intuition and learning about yourself, who you want to be, and what gives your life joy and meaning.
Be courageous enough to choose YOU!
Do not agree to do things that go against your core beliefs, or if you are on a tight schedule, or if it increases your stress!
If you feel calm and at peace about a decision, then it is likely the correct one.
If you start feeling anxious or stressful after saying yes, then you probably need to look at why, and reverse your decision.
As you learn more about who you are, you will instinctively be able to say yes to events that work for you and no to those that do not serve you or your interests.
This will be a challenge for some people, but know that this will help in all areas of your life when you choose to put your needs first!
Like all advice, cherry-pick what serves you and leave the rest!
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