Self-Care Sunday Part 2- Why do you have trouble saying No?
I recently was talking with a client about the importance of saying “no” to others’ requests and it occurs to me that this is an important part of self-care. Saying “No” to doing things that you don’t want to do tells you and everyone else that you are worth taking care of. It is a way of setting boundaries with others on what is acceptable and what is not acceptable to you. If you constantly say “yes” to everything that is requested of you from everyone around you, what you are really saying to everyone is that their feelings, needs, and wants are more important than yours. In this sense, I think learning to say “no” to other people is a very important part of self-care.
Why do you have trouble saying “No”?
If you find that it’s difficult for you to say “no”, it will be well worth your time to explore why that is. Are you afraid that other people won’t like or value you if you do? Are you afraid of conflict? Of anger? Do you feel like you are worthless if you aren’t helping others? Were you allowed to as a child? Is this something that is working for you, or would it be better for you to make a change? this is fairly common with people who are depressed. Journaling might be one way to discover the answers to questions like these. Just write down the question, then spend time wondering about the answers in your writing.
Why is it important to say “No”?
Being able to say “no” to others is a very important skill to have. It allows you to set boundaries in your relationships by telling other people what’s important to you and what you are going to tolerate. It also is a way of being honest in your relationships with others. If you are constantly saying yes when you really mean no, then you are being disingenuous about your priorities and values. You are in effect not being authentic or allowing others to really get to know the true you.
Saying “No’ will also help you to gain control over your life, and by doing so, it will help you to feel more confident. This in turn will make it easier to say no in the future!
Increasing Your Ability to Say “No”
I think an important part of standing up for yourself is learning exactly what your values are. Once you clearly know what values are important to you and which are not, you can make decisions based on this. Is it important to you that you have privacy? Or is social justice important in your life? Maybe it’s helping others. Once you know, then you can arrange your life and your decisions based on your particular set of values. Check out this free value’s inventory here. It’s a great way to explore which values are important to you.
Another strategy that I like to teach people is to postpone making a decision. You can always say something like, “Let me check my calendar and get back with you”, or “I need to think that over. Can I call you tomorrow with an answer?”. This takes the pressure off you to immediately come up with an answer and if you decide you want to say “no”, you will also have time to think of a response.
The last thought I want to leave you with is the idea that you are not responsible for other people’s feelings or actions. When you either agree or disagree with a request, the person’s response to that is not your responsibility. You can only control yourself and it is up to others to manage their feelings and their actions. Now I’m not saying that you should be rude or disrespectful. On the contrary, be polite and kind. It will definitely serve you better in the long run. But don’t take on the responsibility for anyone else’s feelings either. If you don’t want to say yes, simply and politely decline and move forward with your life.
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