March 2011

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Learning to Say No

woman yes or no

Sound familiar?

  • regret and fear trap you into saying “yes” when you really mean “no
  • you believe that saying “yes” makes you matter more
  • what you think you should do affects your decision making

So many women associate saying “no” with letting someone down or not doing their fair share, or doing what they “should”. Their self-worth is tied to the opinions of others. All the old childhood tapes reinforce this belief. And so, “no” has a negative connotation for them.

Ah, the “shoulds”! Think about where those “shoulds” are coming from…other people’s expectations? a sense of duty? manipulation by others?

What would happen if you looked at “no” as a word that allows you to honor your priorities, to give your life purpose and meaning, and to let you pursue what’s really important in your life?

Do you feel the difference here?

Saying “no” from a place of honoring your personal boundaries versus saying “yes” (when you really want to say “no”) from a place of fear of how it will affect someone else?

Which feels more powerful to you?

Ah, I can hear the “yes, buts”…can we agree to put them on hold, just for now?

Think back over the last week or so. When did you say “yes” while in your heart you really wanted to say “no”? And, let’s assume that you really had a choice in the matter. What did you feel after you said “yes”? Resentment? Exhaustion? Overwhelm?

Notice that those are not powerful, enthusiastic words!

What if you had approached the situation from one of awareness of your available time, of your priorities, of what gives you a feeling of fulfillment? Your true friends really will understand and people will recognize and respect that you value yourself and your goals.

Saying “no” when you have the option to do so gives you the freedom to do what you love, to restore yourself, to be in charge of your life. It does not make you selfish!

So the next time you feel you “should” do something, reframe it be replacing “should” with “will” or “want to”. And then honestly decide if you want to or are willing to do the thing requested. Your answer will come from a place of personal integrity, of an understanding of how the request fits into your priorities and purpose in life. And who would fault you for that?

“We need to distinguish between

selfishness and self-care.

A no to one thing is a yes to something else.”

Joan Borysenko