As children and throughout growing into adult years, we're always taught that we should be looking to say 'yes' to opportunities and anything life brings our way. 'Yes' open the doors to trying out new things, 'Yes' could make us more social and active, 'Yes' will make you look willing and hardworking to other people.
But sometimes, we are a sucker for saying yes when really it doesn't benefit us. Our minds could be telling us 'say no, say no', and instead we blurt out 'yes' as to not disappoint others. Or, we're scared of turning down what should look like an opportunity, even when our guts are telling us it isn't something we really want to do.
This is where 'yes culture' needs to change. We need to be aware of how being programmed to say yes and take up everything we can is sometimes a negative, and actually, there is no harm at all in being firm with 'no'.
Why are we afraid to say no?
One of the main reasons many people fear saying no is because of rejection. It's almost like we have this feeling inside us that when we say no, or turn something down, we could be disappointing someone, making them angry, hurting their feelings, or appearing unkind or rude. We also have that niggle that we could be missing an opportunity, but sometimes, it's best to not take everything available to us. 'Burn out' is a real thing! .
The urge to say yes also comes a lack of self-confidence and self-value. It's a people-pleasing answer a lot of the time, and it's best to be aware of that as early as you can. Of course, it's good to say yes to opportunities, or if something scares you a little but deep down you'd love to try it, this is where saying yes comes with confidence. However, it's when you feel uncomfortable about something, and deep down don't want to do it, but you worry about others instead that becomes the problem.
Why saying no can be a positive
- Saying no doesn't mean you are being a bad person. You are simply looking after yourself and what you want.
- Saying no doesn’t mean that you are being rude, selfish, or unkind. These are all unhelpful beliefs that make it hard to say no.
- Remember how easy it was to say no as a child. We've learned along the way that refusing things can be seen as impolite, but when you're a child, you don't have this embedded onto your brain.
- The sooner we dis-associate no with being dis-likeable, bad mannered, unkind, or selfish, the better we will thrive. We worry too much that if we say no, we will feel humiliated, guilty, or ashamed, and will end up being alone, rejected, or abandoned. This is the wrong way to think and the earlier it is tackled, the better.
Understand your value and say no when you mean no
The second step to learning to say no is realising that you are valuable and choosing your own opinion about yourself over others. It is your life, and you know what you are capable of doing, what you want to be doing, and what works best for you. If that means turning down an invite, saying no to someone else's opinion, refusing an idea, or attending something you don't wish to, then no is the right answer.
If you depend on other people’s approval, and feel like you need to say yes to make them happy, you are basically saying is their opinion of you is more important than your opinion of yourself. And that is not a great way to live!
Ask yourself: is saying yes really worth it?
In life, once you commit to something, you'll eventually get a little bit of doubt that sets in and you may start to think of ways you can get out of what you said yes to. If you have a dread or bad feeling about what you said yes to, you may start thinking about lying your way out of something, causing stress, anguish, and all sorts of both. So do bear this in mind before you commit with a 'yes'.
You have the right to say no to anything that makes you feel a little uneasy. If you're not too great at saying no firmly, remember to give yourself time and to tell someone 'let me get back to you. This gives you that thinking period about how to say no politely, why it's the right answer for you, and to give you chance to really assess the answer.
Other helpful tips for saying no:
- When you have decided no is the right answer, be direct. Make statements, like “no, I can’t” or “no, I don’t want to.”
- Don’t apologise for saying no, and make up all sorts of reasons to justify your answer. Be confident in your decision and go from there.
- Don’t lie. Lying will most likely lead to guilt—and remember, this is what you are trying to avoid feeling.
Remember that it is better to say no now than be resentful later.
- Do remember to be polite as well as firm. Say, “Thanks for asking.” or "Not this time for me I'm afraid" to soften the response if you do appreciate the question.
- Practice saying no first to get yourself used to the firm answer. Imagine a scenario and then practice saying no either by yourself or with a friend. This will get you feeling a lot more comfortable with saying no.
Don’t say “I’ll think about it” if you don’t want to do it. This will just prolong the situation and make you feel even more stressed.
It's key to bear in mind that your self-worth does not depend on how much you do for other people. Learning to say no will change your life for the better, as you become aware of things that benefit your life and your mind, and no one elses.
It will free you from feeling trapped, resentful, or guilty. Instead, you'll feel empowered and free! Try it - we promise it can only have positive effects...
If this blog has helped you learn how to take control of your life, head to our other blogs! Free Yourself From Negative Beliefs and will push you that little bit further to putting yourself first.