This is often a good mantra for people pleasers. And although it is perfectly acceptable to simply say no to a request, it often feels difficult to do so. The first thing that enters into the picture is the propensity to say “Yes” – and that pull tends to be quite strong. Next comes the guilt – somehow saying no indicates what a horrible person you are. Tsk. Tsk. Unfortunately, saying yes all the time makes us tired, feel as though we are being taken advantage of, and places ourselves in the “I am not important and you are” position. Ugh.
Perhaps to start, we need to think about the word ‘maybe.’ In answering someone’s request, ‘maybe’ often sounds like:
“I am not sure I can do that. Let me check my schedule and get back to you,” or
“I understand that you would like an answer right now, but I have to think about it. I will get back to you in an hour, (by lunch, by tomorrow, etc.)” – This one tends to work well with kids and teenagers 🙂
Then you take the time to run this quick inventory before you decide:
Do I have the time? Sometimes we just don’t have the time to squeeze one more request into our day; other days the pace is going well.
Do I have the energy? Perhaps it is the end of the week, and we are running on empty or maybe the walk we had this morning has given us some pep.
Do I have the support? Perhaps we can say yes if others are around to help carry the load, or maybe we are flying solo and it becomes too much.
Once we have the answers to these questions, our maybe can become a yes, or it might have to be a no:
“I’m sorry, I can’t commit to that. My schedule doesn’t allow it this time.”
“Going to the party isn’t going to work this time. I understand that is disappointing.” This doesn’t mean that the arguing and cajoling isn’t going to ensue – after all, you always say yes – it is okay to remind your loved one that “I say yes a lot, I try to make things work for everyone. This time, it’s a no.”
And by keeping the boundary in place, that is when “No” becomes a complete sentence; having faith that everyone will survive you having said no, including yourself 🙂
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Photo credit: https://unsplash.com/@jontyson