Issue 8 August 2006
Sanity Saver #10: Learn to Say No
As women, our concern for others is central to the way we make
decisions. While men [often] make choices based on principles,
women are much more concerned with the impact their decision will
have on the people involved; consequently we’re reluctant
to say “no.”
We waste so much of our precious time and energy trying to please
other people. We think that yes means I love you and no means
I don’t love you when that’s simply not the case.
All too often we feel that when we say no we’re not just
rejecting a request, but we’re rejecting the other person.
And since we certainly don't want to reject someone we love, care
about or respect, we resist saying no. What’s more, if we
see no as a rejection, chances are we ourselves hate to be told
no. Consequently, we also hesitate because we don't want anyone
to say no to us (not that this ever works).
To most people, unless they've learned otherwise, "no"
conjures up thoughts of selfishness, weakness, anger, rejection,
failure and stubbornness, to name but a few. It's not surprising
that some of us have trouble with this little word. In fact most
of us act as if “no” is a four-letter word. May I
remind you, it isn’t.
Saying no is a way of caring for and honoring ourselves. When
it comes to making decisions our criteria need to be: If this
is the only life I know I have, is this how I want to spend my
time and energy?
We can ask ourselves this question when someone asks us to go
out to dinner, when being offered a new project, when being called
to volunteer for a charity function or in our child’s school.
Most of us pressure ourselves to give an immediate response when
asked a question. But if truth be told, very few things require
an immediate answer. Why not say, “let me get back to you,”
and take the time you need to decide if this is really right for
you or if you’re being seduced by the I can do it all syndrome?"
If someone asks you to do something that you don’t want
to do you can simply say, “Thanks for asking, but that’s
just not going to work for me.” Remember you have every
right to say no to something you don't want to do. The truth is,
learning to say no is an acquired skill. However, like learning
how to swim, you get better with practice. Using this powerful
two-letter word doesn't mean you’ll never do a favor for
a friend again or accept another invitation about which you're
somewhat ambivalent. However, when you make a decision to go against
your feelings, it will be an adult decision, not the decision
of your guilt demons.
Moreover, learning to say no can dramatically increase your time
and help you to feel better about yourself and less resentful
We have to be willing to say no to certain things in order to
make room to say yes to others. Saying no is a way of caring for
and honoring your authentic self. It’s a way to keep in
touch with what’s most essential in your life.
For more information on 30 Days to Sanity please visit www.30daystosanity.com.