Saying No. . .Effectively!

Are you a yes man? Or a yes woman? I used to be one. Well, I kind of still am. If you’re not sure, answer these questions:

  • Do I accept every invitation that comes my way?
  • Are you the person that everyone comes to when they need help?
  • Do you tend to spend money when it isn’t really the best decision for you and your family?
  • Have you ever agreed to something when your gut is screaming at you trying to tell you it’s not the right decision for you and your family?

If you have said yes to any of the questions above and never ask for anything in return, then you probably are a yes man or yes woman. Listen, it’s ok if you are because it means that there is room to grow and improve. I’m still working on it myself.

My suicide attempt was a HUGE sign that I wasn’t prioritizing myself and was giving too much to others. It made me realize that saying no needed to become a priority. The ironic part is, that attempt didn’t actually change me because I kept saying yes.

I distinctly remember one Summer that my husband and I said yes to just about everything. It was the Summer after a friend had passed away. Before that, we had said no a lot and did things that worked for us. But after our friend’s passing, we felt guilty for saying no. Instead, we said we’d sleep when we were dead. That Summer, we had 2-3 things to do every weekend day. That amounts to almost 6 things to do on a weekend! ? Typing it out here reminds me just how crazy it was. By the Fall, we were burnt out. We were exhausted and knew something had to change.

So how do you say no?

First of all, it takes practice. You have to say it over and over again to make it a little easy to come out. You may never be totally comfortable with saying it, but it will become easier.

You can also learn how to say no a little differently. Use phrases like

Let me think about that and get back to you.

I can’t commit to that right now.

That’s not a priority for me so I’ll have to pass.

These phrases can buy you some time to ponder the invite or the request and determine if you want to say yes. It will also allow you to be clear with the person asking something of you.

Lastly, make sure you avoid using words like “think” or “believe” when responding to someone asking you to do something. These words leave room for the possibility that there is a chance you’ll say yes. You want to believe what you’re saying so be confident with your words.

Saying no is important for so many reason. Mainly, because you’re taking a step toward putting yourself first. And no, it’s not selfish. It’s self-care. You’re deciding to do what’s important for you and your family, FIRST! And you’re living your life according to your own rules. You’re living life on your terms.

I’m ending this post with a challenge. I want you to consider starting to practice saying no. For the next 30 days, say no to at least one thing a day. It can be as simple as saying no to an extra cup of coffee or as large as a request to borrow money you know you can’t afford to give up. Just start to practice and make no a good habit you’ll keep doing from here on out.

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