Let’s take a breath. In through the nose as much as your lungs can absorb, and then let it all out with a fat sigh. Oo yeah that feels good, doesn’t it? There is power in the breath, and there was power in making the decision to take a breath just now. You did what feels good by saying yes.
“No” is a small little word that can hold more power than “yes”. Learning how to say no is an art that takes practice. One you will learn right now!
If you’re a subscriber, we are taking a little break from saving the environment with zero waste lifestyles and reminding ourselves to focus on our mental health.
Why Do We Say Yes?
According to Psychology Today, we say yes to things because of our social construct. We have a need for social approval, a strong desire to “fit in” and feel accepted on the bandwagon.
Remember in Kindergarten when everyone did everything together as a class? Valentines Day, field trips, after-school hangouts, you name it. Well, remember that one time so-and-so (Veronica..ahem) invited everyone in the class to their birthday party except you? Being left out feels awful! It can be psychologically damaging.
My point is that as we grow up, we learn to say yes to more and more things to avoid isolation. If you get rejected, where do you go? 70% of the time is to another social setting.
Learning to Say No
Speaking of social situations, that’s where I decided to create this post. Last week, I had a wonderful conversation with a wonderful woman about the power of saying no.
I’ve come across a few situations in the past couple of years where I had to buckle up the courage to say no to close friends, family, and even managers. I would hit a point where I couldn’t walk on eggshells around people anymore and I couldn’t keep saying yes to everything because it hurt me in the long run.
A quick example is that I used to live in Washington where there were limited events during the rainy winters and then I moved to Southern California where there were too many things to do and join and go because of the year-round sunny weather! Sounds like a lame example, “wow you have too many fun things to do, sounds rough…” but it affected my work-life balance and the fun ended up being stressful because I couldn’t say no to work and play and there was too much of both going around.
As soon as saying yes negatively affects your health (mental, physical, emotional, spiritual), you’ve gone too far.
But I can happily tell you there is ALWAYS a choice to say yes to your health. To take a breath. You have the freedom to choose your time.
Ways to Say No Without Explaining Yourself
Because they don’t always need to know what’s going on with you! You have control of your own voice, of your freedom to choose what to say. Depending on who you are saying no to, it can be tricky to make it sound appealing and peaceful.
In a professional setting
- I apologize in advance, but I won’t be able to attend the meeting this afternoon. I hope it goes well.
- Unfortunately, my schedule is full today. Is there someone else I can redirect you to?
- I appreciate the offer, however, I’ve made prior arrangements.
In a romantic relationship
- It sounds like a great time, but I’m just not up for it.
- How about we do that next weekend, does that work?
- I need time to myself today but I’m excited for _______ coming up with you.
In a friendship
- I’m so sorry but I won’t be able to hang out today. How does Thursday sound?
- I don’t feel comfortable with this activity, I’m not going to attend. I hope you understand.
- Sadly, I can’t _______.
Tips for Saying No in the Moment
In honor of learning to say no (because it’s a process), here are some quick tips to practice.
Some examples these tips are good for include keeping your schedule intact, removing yourself from a toxic environment, avoiding too much spending, and staying true to yourself.
- Take a breath and reflect: Will saying yes negatively affect me?
- Know that comfort is the enemy of progress. Being uncomfortable at first is O.K!
- Use: “Maybe next time”, “Not right now”, “I don’t feel confident that will work”, or “I apologize, but I’m just too busy right now”
- Remember your freedom of choice. “Not having a choice” isn’t an option.
Learning to say no is something I’ve understood to be crucial in managing my life. I hope this post has made you realize something as small as saying no to a hangout because it’s your one day off to relax will be extremely beneficial to you. If your kid’s soccer buddy wants to hang out at your house but you had plans to spend the day as a family, you’re allowed to say no! Just make sure you do something fun for everyone…
There are countless examples, but gently learning to say no to benefit you is powerful. Just like the power you hold in your breath, making healthy choices takes one step at a time.