Perhaps we’re ambitious, eager to take on anything and everything that comes our way. From helping friends move, to tutoring younger siblings, and even taking on an extra shift at work, we can view favors and requests as opportunities, chances to grow and help others.
But sometimes this altruistic nature can be our downfall. Sometimes, saying yes to every little thing can leave us overly stressed, burnt out, and may lead to bouts of depression. These things are preventable, however, through one simple, yet powerful word: no.
The power in just these two letters is great, but there are many people who struggle saying it. Saying no can lead to various emotions: guilt, sadness, disappointment, etc. We want to come off as reliable and hardworking, but when we jeopardize our health and well-being, saying no is a necessity.
There is certainly an art to saying no—an art we must learn and perfect over time. Here’s how you do just that.
We all go through life developing different sets of priorities. Sure, some of these might overlap and align with each other, but at the end of the day we need to figure out what is important to us. Not to our co-workers, our best friend, or even to our family members, but to us.
Through setting priorities and knowing what we need to do in order to accomplish our goals, we come to understand the importance of saying no. We need to realize that our time is limited and if a favor or request prevents us from fulfilling our priorities to the best of our ability, then we have every right to say no.
Think about it
You might feel the need to give an answer right away due to the heat of the moment, but pushing off your decision until later is totally acceptable. Tell them that you’ll need a day or two to consider their request. That way, you’ll be able to assess your previous commitments to determine whether you can realistically take on a new task.
Even if you do decline, you can always say that you gave it some thought and found that your schedule had no room for any additional work. Most people will understand and accept your decision, knowing firsthand the negative effects of overwork.
Focus on yourself
To some, this might seem like a selfish thing to do.Many of us are taught to take care of others, to help wherever we can, and to never turn a blind eye to those in need. While kindness and generosity are good virtues to have, too much can be a bad thing.
When we give so much, we must also receive the same amount in return. And there is one simple reason behind this: we cannot give what we do not have. How do you expect to help someone when you are physically and mentally drained?
By saying no, you are giving your body time to rest and recuperate before moving onto the next big thing. Being able to realize when you need rest is another skill in itself and goes hand-in-hand with saying no.
Having good self-care habits in place not only lessens your own burdens, but gives you the energy to make the time to take care of another.
Confidence in your no
When we always say yes to things, there can be many reasons why. Personally, I’ve said yes due to prior expectations, impending guilt, and a desire to people-please. I did not believe in my ability to say no or that no was even an option.
But after years of growth and understanding my own needs better, I have realized that my no carries weight and should be respected.
There is no reason why you should tiptoe around a conversation and avoid denying a favor/request. You know your own circumstances and understand what needs to be done in order to move forward. Saying no is just part of the equation to do that. Be confident and stand firm in your decisions, even when it includes saying no.
No, and that’s final
In life, we are presented with many opportunities that could be life changing. But when a new opportunity impedes a previous commitment, we have every right to say no to avoid overworking ourselves and adding on unneeded stress. Saying no should not come with guilt or disappointment or any other negative feeling. It should free you and enable you to work on the things you deem important for your future.
So take a deep breath, smile, and with full confidence, tell them no.