The demands on your time are growing on a daily basis, and between work, family and friends you feel as though you’re constantly letting someone down. No one needs to go through life feeling that level of guilt and the anxiety that it breeds, but how can you stop the cycle of over-committing to everything that comes your way? Whether it’s projects at work, an extra girls’ night with friends or volunteering for your favorite charity, sometimes saying “No” is the only way to retain your sanity. I firmly believe that you should be able to say “No” without guilt, but it won’t happen overnight!
Buildup of Anger and Frustration
When you’re constantly feeling overwhelmed, your frustration, resentment and even anger threaten to overtake your personality – and this can be disastrous for even the strongest relationships. Choosing who gets the “No” can be the most difficult challenge of all: do you choose to let down your family members who you can trust and know that they’ll still love you, or do you let down the peripheral friends or co-workers who matter less in our lives? Too often, we choose a more transitory relationship to favor in hopes of growing the attachment instead of focusing on deepening an already strong bond.
“No” Is a Way to Show Trust
How do you feel when a friend or family member says “Yes” to something that you know in your heart that they do not want to do? Do you feel guilty, but accept their support and help anyway? Do you turn down their assistance, knowing that they aren’t strong enough to say “No” for themselves, and you want to save them the added stress? When you put yourself on the other side of the guilt equation, it helps you gain perspective on why it can be an exercise in trust to say “No” to someone that you love and respect. Trust that you won’t be judged, ridiculed or passed over in some way – that is what you’re gaining when you’re able to say “No” without fear – trust that your loved ones will respect the fact that you’re feeling overwhelmed and need some time for self-care.
“No” Is a Complete Sentence
When someone asks you to do something – and you truly don’t want to do what is asked or quite simply can’t do it – do you feel the need to come up with a string of justifications for your refusal? If so, stop immediately! Saying “No” can be a complete sentence on its own, and doesn’t require explanation. The thought that you can turn down a request and not feel guilt is an incredibly freeing concept, and one that many women have a hard time embracing without adequate back-up and reinforcement from a qualified counselor.
Being True to You
Understanding your personal needs can help you remove a significant amount of stress, anxiety and sleepless nights from your future – side effects of focusing on others instead of on yourself. While you may be expecting that saying “No” adds to your overall stress level, you may be pleasantly surprised to find that letting go of what others think and focusing on being true to yourself feels fantastic.
Need some examples of what is sounds like to say “No” to requests? Use these as templates to plug into your particular situation.
- That sounds like fun! Unfortunately, it just will not work in my schedule this week.
- I would be happy to help with your project. Presently, I am wrapping up task #1 & task #2. I could comfortably deliver the project to you by the end of next week.
- I appreciate you thinking of me. However, I’ve made the decision to not volunteer for any committees this quarter.
As women, we need to be cognizant of the fact that we can’t care for others – our spouses, co-workers, aging parents or children – unless we’re first able to keep our basic needs satisfied.