We’ve all seen toddlers as they learn new words. “No” is usually one of the first words these sweet toddlers learn, and they say it with such conviction and confidence with no regard for how the other person will feel. The funny thing is that conviction and confidence fades over the years as we learn about feelings and pleasing others. As we grow up, we want to “fit in” and be accepted. We don’t want to feel like we have let anyone down. Unfortunately, we don’t always think about whether or not we are letting ourselves down. We don’t think about being true to our own feelings, wants, and preferences. I’m not suggesting that we should become self absorbed blow-hards, but I am suggesting that balance is best. There are definitely times when a “No” is a balanced approach to living. There are times that “No” has to be the word that comes out of our mouths even though it may not be a popular response with our colleagues, friends, or family. How do you know if you might have a problem with saying “NO”? Consider these examples:
- Frequent feeling of being overcommitted: Do you find yourself in charge of several committees? Do you find yourself on the guest list of many parties as you run from one to another?
- When asked "Is that okay with you?" Do you say "Yes" when it's really not?
- Do you feel frustration because at the end of a day or the end of a week you cannot think of anything you have done for yourself?
- Do you agree to open your home to a frequent guest when you would rather be able to come home and walk around in your underwear or leave the dishes in the sink?
- Are you the “go-to” person? You know, the one everyone comes to for whatever they need, or are you really the person who gets dumped on because you never say no?
All of this can be summed up with this question: Do you feel angry with yourself because you let yourself down by saying yes again when you have promised yourself you were going to say no? You’ve promised yourself you will never assume all of these responsibilities that you don’t have to have simply because you don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. Yet, you did it again? If so, you probably have a problem with saying “NO”.
The truth is people that truly care for you will have no problem accepting your answer. Of course, they might be taken aback at first because that response is new for you, but if they love you they will adjust. If the thought of saying “no” really makes you cringe, here is a way to say “no” without actually saying the word. Are you ready? Here it is. “That doesn’t work for me”. That’s it. “That doesn’t work for me”. Let’s try it out.
Question: Will you please bake 6 dozen brownies for the bake sale tomorrow? Come on, say it with me. “That doesn’t work for me”.