by Anu Bhatnagar
Do You Wish You Could Say NO more often with ease and without feeling guilty? Do you feel overwhelmed on regular basis and take up tasks and activities which drain you but keep saying yes because you do not want to be seen as ‘difficult’. Please know that you are not alone.
NO is a complete sentence!
Still millions of us are unable to refuse unfair demands and expectations on our time, resources and suffer in silence while ignoring our own priorities. Women find it especially tough to say no even when they are fully aware that the demands are not worthy of their time, skills and commitment. Precious hours are wasted on tasks and activities that are not relevant to their own goals and priorities.
If you want to understand why you find it difficult to say NO, I invite you to dig deep and ask some tough questions
- When you are always saying yes to others what are you saying no to? (hint … family time, health, self care )
- In other words what is your cost of saying yes to others all the time? ( hint… You are overwhelmed, tired, angry)
- What is the cost of putting your own life at the bottom of the list? ( hint… feel disappointed, overstretched, hurt)
- What is your biggest fear when you say NO to other demands? ( hint… I will be called nasty, difficult.)
- Do you feel this will take away your image of a cooperative and caring woman?
- Do you feel your time and your skills have no value and you can be at everybody’s disposal all the time? ( hint.. you may want to see and understand the importance of your time, skills and presence)
Do this digging with kindness and love. Please know that you are doing everything to fulfill expectations and demands of everyone else. This exercise is a self care journey to learn to put your own needs at the top of the to-do list.
Let us find the perfect balance – say NO with ease and say YES to yourself more often.
Off course you are not saying NO to make people suffer. The whole point of this journey is to learn to continue to be the loving, compassionate and professional person you are and bring awareness and power back to yourself. Setting healthy boundaries is an essential part of your well balanced life and career.
This healthy awareness is key so you are able to say yes to your own life, your priorities, your work and live in perfect balance.
Let me give an analogy of fitness.
If you want to improve your muscle strength, what do you do?
You start small.
You feed the muscles right type of nutrition.
And with time your muscles gain strength, and become stronger.
We use same basics to activate and strengthen the ‘NO muscle’ .
Five ways to make it easier to ‘say no’ and claim your power back
For example you can simply say no to a seemingly inconsequential thing or task which makes no big difference or is not so critical.
*Starting small will still make you practice NO
*Because you know it is not that critical, you will save yourself from the guilt you feel after saying no
Ask for time
Start by asking for some time before you say yes or no. For example you might want to say “Hi, I need to check on XX before I can respond so can you come back in 30 minutes”
*Extra time to evaluate your options
*You did not reject a genuine request of help so no guilt
Find your triggers – Practice saying the words NO in front of a mirror
Get started on the no muscle workout by saying no aloud and watch how your body feels. Just observe your entire body, mind and the emotions. Watch for the struggle if any,
Pay attention to what happens to you when you say NO loud and clear and make friends with your response.
Learn to manage the stress response
Years of conditioning may have given you automatic reactions. These reactions kick in when we do something different and new and force us to jump in with our usual responses.
A few effective and simple things will help you to manage your stress. Try these and think of it as an experiment and continue to stay aware.
How to distract yourself from the stress you feel after saying NO
- Take a break and practice deep breathing
- Go to the rest room and look at yourself in the mirror and say some affirmations
- Have a glass of water
- Give yourself a mental pep talk
- Read something positive or your affirmations
Make this awareness journey fun – Put reminders around you
Every morning remind yourself that you can say no when needed. Find simple easy fun ways to remind yourself. Put stickers around your computer or add a screen saver.
I am a Catalyst of Change in essence!
I use my writing to inspire, encourage and engage with my readers. A gender equity and menstrual health advocate, I am an independent publicity advisor and community engagement director.
I create powerful messaging, stories and content to help organisations communicate. I work with non profit organisations to maximize their reach and influence.