#9 LEARN TO SAY NO

Happiness Choice #9 - Learn to say "No" without feeling guilty

WHAT IS IT ABOUT SAYING "NO"?

I don't know if it's an oldest child thing, or a generational thing, or a personality thing, but I know I have a lot of trouble saying "No" to people. I want everyone to be happy, I want them to be happy because I agreed to help them. I want to facilitate things for everyone and supposedly in the process, for myself as well.

The problem is that saying "Yes" to everyone and everything usually means I end up over-committed and stressed. I end up running around after other people and not taking care of my own needs. 

PEOPLE PLEASING

When someone says "we should catch up sometime" it's usually me who runs around making a date, committing to travelling to see them (rather than them coming to see me) and generally stretching myself thin to make it happen. I feel like I need to do it all so that they aren't too inconvenienced. I think "well I live out of town" or "I work on the other days" or "it's easier for me to make adjustments" and before I know it, I've given up time and space for something that has become bigger than Ben Hur.

I often say "Yes" based on the idea of "what will people think if I say No?" I say "Yes" because I don't want to hurt someone's feelings, or because I don't want them to be annoyed at me, or because I want to look like I care or that it's important to me.


Today I said "no" and didn't apologize - Brooke Hampton quote


WHAT'S REALLY IMPORTANT?

As time goes on, I'm realizing that I need to put my own needs and wants higher up the priority scale. It's okay to want time to myself - to choose to stay home in the peace and quiet rather than meeting up with people, or running errands, or doing little jobs for everyone. I need the headspace and the peace and quiet of time to myself and I need to be able to say "No" sometimes so I can have that.

For some reason I feel guilty that I prefer to stay home and read or have a nap on my day off rather than taking on another volunteer position, or getting dressed up and driving somewhere to chat to someone who hasn't bothered to take the time to come to see me instead. Even if it's easier for me to make the effort, sometimes it's nice to know that another person put themselves out for me instead. 

GUILT FREE CHOICES

Learning to say "No" and to not feel guilty in the process is something I'm working hard on. My own peace of mind and happiness hinges on me having the courage to claim my own space and to put boundaries in place. I need to remember that I don't have to explain myself to everyone, that I don't have to invent a reason when I don't want to comply with someone else's demands. I can just simply say "No" and not give reasons or excuses.

It is so liberating to claim my right to a quiet life. It lifts my happiness when I'm doing something because I choose to, rather than doing it because I feel obliged to do. We all have duties and obligations - that's part of being a responsible adult, but not to the degree where we sacrifice our own happiness on a regular basis. We need to find that balance between saying "Yes" because it's the right thing to do, and saying "No" when we need some mental and physical rest. 


Happiness Choice #9 - Learn to say "No" without feeling guilty

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21 comments

  1. Saying no was something that took me a long time to achieve. You hit the nail on the head early on---I want everyone to be happy. Problem is, for a long time, that "everyone" didn't include me! I still have trouble saying no, but the older I get, the easier it is.

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    1. I'm the same Lisa - it just seemed easier to agree and to put others first - it's what we were taught from our childhood. Now I'm seeing things from a clearer (and wiser?) perspective and I know I can't be all things to all people without draining myself - there needs to be balance.

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  2. Ugh. I have such a hard time with this! Husby keeps wanting to stand me in front of a mirror and practice saying , "No!"
    I'm working on it!

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    1. It's lovely to be a "Yes" person Diane, but sometimes we need to look at our own needs and make sure we leave a bit of space for ourselves - you just keep practicing!

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  3. I agree whole heartedly with this post Leanne. From a fellow people pleaser, I know where you're coming from. I have this group of 6 close friends and only 2 of us in the group make the effort to organise get togethers and we do all the organising, booking and emailing back and forth. We have reached the stage where we're both fed up, so are just sitting back and waiting to see if anyone else in the group notices! I have finally started to say no a lot more frequently. #TeamLovinLife

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    1. I've actually lost contact with a few people once I stopped running around after them Kathy. It saddens me, but I also realize that it mustn't bother them too much so I need to focus my energy elsewhere - on those who do want to make the effort. It's been a tough time - especially with some who are close and don't care, but I just have to let that go and stop chasing them - it's kind of free-ing once I get my head around it.

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  4. Oh Leanne I've written about this often and still find it easier to say than do! I am improving and now that I'm 60 maybe I finally will achieve it. I'm a pleaser and there isn't anything wrong with that unless you feel totally taken for granted. I am usually the one who organises get-togethers and but I'm becoming very selective now. Oh I hope I don't turn into a grumpy old woman LOL:)

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    1. I worry about the grumpy old woman thing occasionally too Sue - but I figure it's worth the risk if I actually get to invest a little bit more time in myself and the people who are interested in doing life with me. Maybe they'll excuse the occasional grumpy moment!

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  5. I know I need to say 'no' more often. I've written blog posts about the importance of saying 'no.' The challenge I have is actually saying it! I think we have an innate desire to be helpful and make others happy. I'm saying it more often than I used to because I'm recognizing the need to reduce the stress in my life, but I still feel bad and experience some guilt when I do. The quote in your post is going to be my new battle cry!

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    1. I know what you mean about the guilty feeling Melody - we seem to have had it bred into us to do the right thing at our own expense. It's been a whole new learning curve for me to understand that I can actually claim my own place in the world and the entitlement to my own priorities rather than filling everyone else's.

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  6. I agree that the older we get the easier it is to say "no". It's like we go full circle. Before you know it we'll be back to throwing ourselves on the ground in a full on NO tantrum. :)

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    1. I think a tantrum might be quite liberating Leanne - sometimes I feel like I could shout No - that's not far from a full blown tantie isn't it?

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  7. I struggle to say no as well and it's a people pleasing thing for me. I tend to lie or make some excuse which sounds like a lie. When I am honest - ie. with a close friend and I can say "No, I just want to vege at home," for example, it feels wonderful! #teamlovinlife

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    1. I'm getting better at not lying about things Deb - if I really don't want to do something then I look for a credible excuse. What I need to do is not feel the need to have an excuse at all - just let my No mean No and that's it - work in progress!

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  8. I read something one time that said I don't say no because I'm busy - I say no because I don't want to be busy. Me? I have problems with it - & then I resent having said yes. And if I do say no, it's usually accompanied by something that is convoluted or sounds like a lie. The other thing is, I know how hard it is to ask for something, so have that in the back of my mind when I'm reluctantly agreeing. Jo #TeamLovinLife

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    1. The busy-ness thing is a doozie isn't it Jo? Trying to have some down time and then not feeling guilty because you just want to do nothing for a change is a big one for me. I tend to put my head down and avoid putting my hand up for as many things these days and that seems to work quite well most of the time.

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  9. Read this with interest. Recognized some thing in my life.

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    1. I think it's our generation Candy - we all want to make everyone happy - now we're learning that we're allowed to be happy too.

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  10. This is a particular problem for women who are brought up to be nurturers and place themselves lowest priority. Trying to teach my teenaged daughter that she is worthy of more than being on the bottom of the pile.

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    1. The next generation seems to grasp the concept of self-worth better than ours did and better than the preceding generations too. I think we did a good job of encouraging them to value themselves - now we just need to practice what we preach!

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  11. Thanks for linking up at #overthemoon Leanne I've shared on FB, Pinterest and Twitter!

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