Consider saying “no” and how often you use the word in a day. Probably not nearly as much as you say “yes.” While yes can be positive, and life-changing in certain scenarios, we can also fall victim to the habit of saying it way too often, and sometimes to our detriment.
I felt this this past summer: John and I love to host friends, family and colleagues up to our cottage, but when it became a situation in which we were hosting people every single weekend, I hit a bit of a breaking point. Don’t get me wrong, I love to be social, but I also need quiet time given how hectic my schedule is back in Toronto.
With every weekend in a relatively short summer booked up, I never felt like I truly caught up on the rest and relaxation I needed. It made me realize that perhaps I needed to say no more often, despite feeling a lot of associated guilt because of it.
Doing what’s best for you is often secondary to everyone else, isn’t it? That’s how we’re hardwired: We put the people who are important to us ahead of ourselves, and with good reason. We want to extend a hand, a kindness, and offer support to those we love, but when we start pushing all of our needs on the backburner as a response to that, it can leave us feeling spent and exhausted. And let’s be honest, saying yes is just plain easier: We don’t want to hurt people’s feelings, we don’t want to feel selfish, and we don’t want to make anyone upset. Saying yes means we avoid all of that, but here’s the thing: If you say yes when you really mean no, you’re saying no to yourself and your needs. When you say no, you’re saying yes to what you need, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
We have to accept that sometimes saying “no” will hurt someone else – you may even disappoint a person you really admire. But what else is happening here? Resentment and regret. When you don’t honour your needs and appreciate what helps you tick, you can inspire anxiety and feelings of depression.
Saying no is hard, but saying yes all the time is harder. Here are a few tips to help so you can create the life you love:
Understand what you want and what you need
We say yes quickly without actually thinking about it, so instead of agreeing to things, or people, blindly, take a minute and set your intention. What do YOU want. How do you want to spend your day, your night, your weekend, or your life? Honing in on that vision isn’t easy, but even if you take a few minutes out of your morning each day to decide how you want it to play out, you will stick to that more closely and ultimately feel like you’re living the day you want. Tune into
What isn’t working for you and instances where going with the flow didn’t always work out for you. Get into the habit of telling yourself, if you’re saying yes, you’re also saying yes to yourself. Do you want to do this? Are you happy in doing this? Learn what saying yes and no feels like. Maybe saying “no” is a healthier option for you.
In saying that, things pop up, people pop up, so I’m not suggesting you say no to every suggestion or ask (spontaneity is an exciting thing!) but just be more mindful of not spreading yourself too thin in the process.
Is saying “no” a better option?
This is a great little trick that works: Don’t immediately say yes to an invitation or request, instead I’ll say “Let me think about it.” It gives you some buffer to think things through and decide how we feel about it. I still notice my initial response is always a resounding “Sure! Why not! Yes!” but I’ve had to learn that by taking some time to think gives me the opportunity to know what I want to do.
Turn down with kindness
It will be easier for people to accept your no if you tell them with kindness. For example, say you are invited to a party and you just don’t feel like going: Start by telling the person you’re flattered and that you appreciate the offer, then be honest about whatever you say. If you’re too tired or too busy, that’s actually OK, and your friends and family will appreciate the transparency as opposed to sending them an elaborate excuse they know isn’t truthful.
If you feel guilty, that’s OK – just don’t let it last
Sure, you may feel guilty turning down an invite or a friend because you said no, but that doesn’t mean you have to act on that emotion. It will lose steam and feel smaller as time goes on.
Saying “no” won’t please everyone
This is a tough one, but sometimes we need to recognize that with certain people we just can’t win. No matter what you do or say, they won’t be pleased. Know this isn’t about you, it’s about them. Remind yourself that saying yes to everything doesn’t necessarily mean these people will like you any more than they do already.