For a word that rolls off the tongue in just one syllable, finding the conviction to utter the word “no” is not always straightforward. We know when to say “no”—when it’s expected of us. When we’re asked if we need something extra perhaps, or when being questioned if we’re looking to avoid hurting someone’s feelings.
Saying “no” in these instances can sometimes happen before we can fully consider what we’re answering. This is because saying “no” to the service of others is easy when it comes from the heart. However, this is the very same heart we must protect by the act of saying “no” for ourselves.
Why Saying “No” is a Challenge in the First Place
The ability to say “no” is a challenge when we perhaps want to say yes, maybe in favor of something we would instead do in contrast to what we should be doing. Saying “no” can also be difficult when we don’t want to disappoint someone else. Or appear misaligned with the expectations we have of ourselves or that others have of us.
This is when it is imperative to decline invitations to do things that work against our self-care practice. Usage of the word “no” is a powerful self-care tool. It should be used for self-preservation as well as development. Avoid burnout and other unpleasant mental health affects all by standing behind the word “no.”
If this seems selfish, consider the fact that you cannot be fully available to others if you are depleted yourself.
How to Say “No”
Coming to terms with saying “no” is partly in understanding why it’s necessary, but executing the big n-o is another story. Here are some tips for avoiding your desire to decline from coming out a “yes” or “maybe.”
- Understand the triggers and opportunities that arise. Know when others are using language that signals the type of invitation that you must learn to decline. Become aware of possible tactics that others use to influence you to answer yes to things you should say “no” to.
- Say it. Come right out with the word. Saying anything else leaves room for questioning and misunderstanding. This is because others know just how easy (and hard) it is to say “no,” so when you don’t do it—they assume you’re avoiding it for a reason. Most of the time, others will fill that reason with their best interest.
- Avoid excuses at all costs. If you find yourself reaching to explain, affirm yourself that not everything needs an explanation. Sometimes you want to clue others in on why you’re saying “no” to keep them from feeling rejected or negative feelings toward you. Resist the urge to gain approval this way.
- Be consistent in your standards. Try not to be the person who says “no” in one instance, but caves the next. Be consistent in your word to yourself and others. If others know there is a fault in your declaration of “no,” they’ll be tempted to sway you. Just the same, if you know, there is a chance you could talk yourself into something despite saying “no,” discipline will be difficult to have.
Saying “no” may feel unnatural in the beginning. You might feel a sense of guilt, which is normal. Understand that these are growing pains and that you are doing exactly that: growing. How GR8 is that? Be resilient and determined in your nay-saying, and you’ll be yay-saying “no” in no time.