Learn to say no

Posted on Jul 19 2017 - 2:11pm by Samantha Clark

We always want to be seen to be doing all we can for other people, especially when it comes to family and close friends, but if you’re finding yourself saying yes to every request that comes your way it could be having a serious impact on your health and overall wellbeing. A big problem in this though is recognising you’re doing this and then, on top of that, it’s the fear of saying no. So we want to help you recognise when it’s too much and all importantly how to learn to say no.

You’re saying yes too much if:

  • You compromise on doing your own thing all too often
  • You don’t even have to consider what else you may have to do- and worry about re-organising after the fact
  • You feel bad saying no
  • Relationships appear unbalanced- you’re being depended on because of your inability to say no
  • You’re avoiding confrontation-even the prospect of it

How is saying yes affecting your health really?

Being an adult is an unending to do list, there is always something to be done and often we all have a little bit too much on our plates. But relationships are about compromise, support and respect so of course if someone is reaching out to us, we instinctively we want to be there to help. However, if a friend or family member begins to take advantage of our willingness to be there, not only does it jeopardize the relationship but inevitably it’ll begin to affect our mental health and personal wellbeing too. We can begin to feel taken for granted, not valued and not respected and the added pressure of going out of our way can have us feeling stressed, anxious and exhausted.


We shouldn’t be taking on more than we can handle

It can be really hard to say no

Because of our instincts to be a supportive friend or family member it’s really hard to say no. In fact, studies show that saying no releases a number of stress hormones and those with anxiety and depression feel even worse. So it’s a conundrum. What we need to do is enter a whole new mindset when it comes to helping those reaching out to us:

Learn to think about your response

We automatically respond to a request for help. Try moving from this knee-jerk response to a more considered one. Take a breath and think about your ability to help. Let them know you need to look into it and that you’ll come back to them.

Don’t use this technique as a means to putting them off though, set a deadline and make sure you get back to them in plenty of time.

Consider what you’ll be compromising on

Take stock of the request and consider what it’ll mean by offering to help; are you having to move another commitment? does it mean you’ll have to get help yourself to help someone else? are you not giving yourself any personal time?

Saying no because you need some time to yourself is not a problem- we all need some time to breathe and reflect and if it means we’re giving up our only hour in the week to just be, it’s perfectly ok to say no. Our health depends on it.

Compromise is an option

An excellent step in the direction of no is to offer an alternative. It may not be possible to help right now but in some circumstances you can offer an alternative day or time or point them in the direction of someone else who can or may be able help.

It’s ok to say no. 

As highlighted our health often depends on us saying no. If you’re unable to help, for whatever reason, be direct and firm but ensure you’re always polite. ‘I am not able to help on this occasion but hopefully you’ll find a resolution soon’.

You don’t need a justification or to apologise.

If ‘no’ is a terrifying concept, it’s something that’ll take practice. Try saying no in the mirror, to small requests and build up to saying no to something because you simply don’t want to do it.

Time to yourself

Saying no can be incredibly freeing

Feel positive

If you say no to something avoid ruminating over it as this will likely lead to more anxiety, stress and even guilt. Instead reflect positively on the experience. Saying no can actually help keep relationships together by avoiding resentment. When we say yes too often, even if it is our inability to say no, we feel taken for granted and this can cause rifts in relationships. In addition it’ll help you to build on your own self-esteem and self worth. It’s therefore a positive thing to say no.

Something else you may not have considered:

Everyone is different when it comes to expectations in relationships. Just because you are a person pleaser doesn’t mean the person putting in the request has any idea you’re this way inclined. In most cases when someone is putting in a request for help there isn’t an expectation for a yes, the expectation is actually that you’re not available or will say no.

We each have different boundaries, tolerance levels and expectations on what we can and can’t do so we must keep this in mind when we’re being asked to do something. In the first instance we always have to put our health and well being above everyone else’s.  

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