Rediscovering the Power of Saying "NO"

by The Couch Poet 8 months ago in advice

Reclaim Control of Your Life and Stop Driving Yourself Crazy

Rediscovering the Power of Saying "NO"

Think back to when you were a child - and I'm talking about a young child. There was a time when your favorite world in the entire English language was "no." Why do you think that is? Saying no made you feel strong and independent, and as if you were required to follow the instructions of others.

The truth is, the word is a power word. It has the ability to give you a strong and definite sense of self.

I'm writing this article because there have been times in my life where I felt kind of lost; like I didn't know who I was, or where I was headed, or what I truly wanted. I'm sure that people out there who are experiencing that same situation, and I'm writing this article for you, because saying is the perfect opportunity for you to rediscover your priorities, and your sense of who you truly are.

Life can be chaotic. There's a lot of that you're expected to stay on top of: work, education, family, relationships, children, etc. The list goes on. The truth is, at a certain point, it becomes impossible to stay on top of everything, and this starts to affect the important areas of your personal life, such as your family time, or even your mental health.

In this article, I'm going to take you through some simple steps to reclaim control of your life. Whether that means learning how to say no more often, or learning to say yes on your terms,it's time to release yourself from the constant burden of pleasing others. Give yourself the freedom to be and do whatever you want!

You must say no when:

  • You're stressed or overwhelmed
  • You're already doing too much
  • You're feeling tired or sick

Making compromises when you're in one of these above situations will ultimately lead to compromise in other areas of your life that are important to you. Do yourself a favor and say no.

You HAVE A RIGHT to say no when:

  • It's somebody else's issue
  • You feel taken advantage of
  • It's something you don't want to do
  • There's something you'd much rather be doing
  • It takes away from your wishes or values
  • You need or deserve some time for yourself

Although this is a general framework, and situations and examples that I've left out, this is a good starting point for you to think about before we dive into the process of empowering you to say no when you need to.

Step 1 - What in Your Life Do You Need to Say "No" To?

Take out a notebook, or a sheet of paper and a pen. I want you to think, using the list above as a point of reference, what in your life you need to say no to. It doesn't matter if you've already said yes or no, or if they're general hypothetical situations. jot down whatever comes to your mind. Don't spend time rationalizing your thoughts or weighing saying yes or no.

For example, in my personal life, I used to agree to more social activities than I should have, when I truly needed and deserved more time for myself. now, empowered to say no, I turn down social invitations when I need some time for myself. I use that time to do some self-care and make sure that I'm happy with who I am and that my needs are being .

Step 2 - What's Stopping You from Saying No to Those Things?

If you're still reading at this point, it's probably because you've recognized that you could saying no more often. the next question you need to ask yourself is "what is stopping you from saying no to those ?" no right or wrong answer to this question, but think for a minutes. Be brutally honest with yourself. If you can saying no, why haven't you been saying no?

people haven't thought about saying no, or they feel that saying no will make people dislike them, or something along those lines. Those are all rational answers. At this point, I want you to be thinking about where you could potentially start saying no, and what's holding you back from doing so.

Step 3 - What Are Your Beliefs About the Word "No?"

This step may seem like it's a little similar to the last step, however, the goal of this step is to identify the associations that you automatically make with the word no, and people who say no. Give as many answers to the below questions as you can. It's okay if your answers seem contradictory. This may even be a part of the reason you have difficulty saying no. Just be completely honest.

  • People who say "yes" are:
  • People who don't say "yes" are:
  • People who say "no" are:
  • People who don't say "no" are:

I know these questions can be tough to answer. For me, I used to answer something like this. "People who say yes are friendly and philanthropic. People who don't say yes are selfish. People who say no are rude and mean. People who don't say no are passive and pushovers." Over time, my views on every question have changed, but until you clearly identify your current thoughts, you'll have no power to change them.

At this point, take a moment to reflect on what this exercise has taught you about yourself. Maybe you didn't even realize that you held some of the views that you do, and now you've made a sudden realization about yourself. Any change at all is a positive sign.

Step 4 - Understanding the "Yes Trap"

The "yes trap" is when you say yes to something, even when you'd rather be saying no. It's often because you think that something will benefit you, when it will in fact only take up more of your valuable time. Understanding why you say yes when you'd rather say no is essential to taking control of your time and values.

You can use the following questions and open-ended statements to help you get some clarity on this:

  • When I say yes, I feel:
  • When I say yes, I want other people to think that I am:
  • By saying yes, what am I saying no to in my own life?
  • When I say no, I feel:
  • When I say no, I worry that other people will think that I am:
  • When I say yes, but really want to say no, I feel:
  • My biggest fears about saying no are:

As I mentioned, the main goal of this step is to get you thinking about why you continue to say yes to things that you know you should be saying no to. This is probably the most important step in this entire process.

Step 5 - The Other "Know" - Know Your Priorities

The focus of this particular step is to understand why you're saying no. You're saying no so that you don't have to make a compromise in another area of your life, one that holds great importance for you. So what is that compromise that you're not willing to make? Use these questions and statements to brainstorm about your priorities:

  • What is most important to me in life?
  • Where would I like to spend more time?
  • Where would I like to spend less time?
  • What is my priority this year?
  • What is my priority this month?
  • What is my priority this week?
  • If I had a magic wand, I would:

Think about what it is that you want, and what it is you will use your new added time on. Are you meeting your top priorities? How are you meeting them?

Now that you've completed these five steps, you should be well on your way to empowering yourself to spend more time on your priorities and yourself, and less time doing things that you don't want or need to be doing.

Saying no is the single most effective tool you have in reclaiming control of your own life, and steering yourself in the direction you'd like to go.

We understand, though, that saying no can be difficult at first, so we're going to leave you with some simple techniques you can use when saying no.

Bonus - Effective Techniques for Saying No

  1. Simple - "No, but thank you for thinking of me."
  2. Something Else - "I'm already doing _____." / "I have a _____ appointment."
  3. Buy Yourself Time - "I'm actually in the middle of something right now. Can I get back to you later this week?"
  4. Deferral - "I'm really busy this week. Can it wait until next week?"
  5. Transfer - "I don't know much about it, but I bet _____ could help you."
  6. Requesting Priority - "If I do this now, what did you want me to put on hold?
  7. Prioritizing Yourself - "I'd love to help, but I'm focusing on _____ right now."

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The Couch Poet
The Couch Poet
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The Couch Poet

Just an NJ based poet writing about the human condition - my human condition. Hope you can relate!

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