Saying no usually comes with a feeling of guilt. But saying yes too often is detrimental to our own mental and physical health. How can we say no without feeling guilty?
You’re a good human being.
You want to help people out, and when you’re asked for favours, you’re quick to say yes.
The problem with all this is the people lining up to abuse your good nature. Not everyone is like that – but we have to face the fact that the more you give, the more will be taken.
All the leaders say how important it is to say no.
Warren Buffett, one of the richest men in the world says:
The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say no to almost everything.
Saying no more often makes a lot of sense.
When we say yes too often, we’re not only allowing our good nature to be compromised, but we’re also running around like headless chickens making everyone else happy, and in turn, seriously jeopardising our own needs.
We forget what we need.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to help and serve others, but if it’s at the cost of your own mental and physical health, there should be no guilt in saying no more often.
Here’s how to say no more often without the guilt.
Step One: The Direct Approach
There is a thin balance between being aggressive and being assertive.
Getting the balance right is in the ability to say no without coming across like a selfish arsehole. It can be tricky, and it does take practice, especially if saying no hasn’t come naturally to you before.
Plus, there is no beating around the bush when it comes to saying no.
No means no – however you say it.
But if we put our common sense caps on, we know there are good and bad ways to deliver a ‘no’.
‘No, go fuck yourself’ is quite different to ‘No, I’m sorry, I don’t have the time for that right now.’
One will get you fired, and the other will get you a promotion for your communication skills and assertiveness.
We don’t need to be aggressive when saying no, but we do need to be assertive. However you try to fluff it up – when you say no it’s likely you’re not doing something someone wants you to do.
If you don’t take the direct approach, you won’t be taken seriously.
Whoever it is asking you to do things outside of what is acceptable to you needs to know they can’t keep hassling you.
Have you noticed it’s always the people willing to say yes more often that are the ones who get picked on? They’re the ones being abused, working more overtime than is feasible, and lending more money to friends they can’t afford.
You have to make a choice whether or not you’re one of these people – because it is your choice to make.
Step Two: Understanding Your Boundaries
The term ‘draw a line’ applies here.
You’ve got to establish where your line is.
Do you know where your line is? If you don’t, that’s the issue.
If you don’t know what your limits are you’re leaving it up to your subconscious to tell you when you’re pissed off. When we reach that point we eventually explode! That’s when we do things we regret.
We can prevent ourselves from reaching this point when we know what our boundaries are.
What are you willing to accept?
That’s the only question that needs answering.
If the boss is asking you to do overtime you know is excessive – and you know it breaches what is acceptable (your boundaries) – you need to say no.
If your mate asks you for another tenner, on top of the two they haven’t paid you back yet, is that beyond your limit? If it is, you need to say no.
Understanding your boundaries will help you manage the whole process of saying no better than you ever have.
If something makes you angry or feel resentment, it’s a sure sign you’ve surpassed your limit.
Do yourself a favour and say no more often – so you don’t get close to reaching this level of pissedoffness. (If that’s a term?)
Listen to the Podcast: Saying ‘No’ Without the Guilt.
Step Three: Be OK With Being a Bit More Selfish
Part of what gets us into the mess of saying yes too often is how selfless we are.
Being in touch with other people’s needs is a beautiful human trait. There is no doubt we need more humans like you!
But as we’ve just said, we can’t keep giving and giving without expecting it to eventually breach our health and wellbeing.
You can’t give what you haven’t got.
You have to put your needs first.
In the short-term, being more selfish is hard. That feeling of guilt is extra heavy, so you’ll find it harder to break. If you’re not used to saying no, people will be shocked when you start doing it more often.
But in the long-term, appreciating our own needs (being a bit more selfish) is better for everyone.
By being a bit more selfish, you’ll break the pattern that saying yes too often has got you in – whether that’s doing all the housework, working too much overtime or lending money you haven’t got.
When you stop doing these things you’ll be happier and less angry, and when you feel like that, the people around you will benefit too. Your boss will get a productive worker. You and your partner won’t have the same argument you have every evening. You’ll have a better relationship with your mates because you won’t resent them.
As I mentioned, you can’t give what you haven’t got. If saying yes all the time is bringing you down mentally, physically and emotionally, eventually you won’t have anything left to give.
By giving yourself that extra ‘me’ time and space (that everyone needs and deserves), you have more to give when it really counts.
So the next time you feel guilty for saying no, remember that you’re not only doing it for your own sake but for everyone else’s.