Now I know I’m not the only one out there who has had a difficult time learning to say “No.” We all have tendencies to take on more than we can handle. Some folks have kids, and they take on the responsibilities of parenting, their professional roles, and their own personal relationships. They have friends or loved ones who need things and somehow, inadvertently, they always wind up with more on their plates than most people know how to handle.
So why am I writing about this now? Maybe I need a little reminding myself that it’s okay to say “no.” In part, this is true. I do tend to take on a lot. But it’s also for several folks I know who are doing the exact same thing and are completely frazzled by life’s circumstances. One of my friends was being guilted into staying at a church that he’s been attending for over twenty years. The church is no longer meeting his needs and the congregation kept guilting him to come back and be on certain teams. He’s finally standing on his own two feet and saying “no.” He’s changing churches. I think it’s great because now he can find things that fit his needs better without feeling like if he says no, people are going to be mad at him.
At work, we, as a team, don’t feel we can usually tell our bosses no. The reason being is because of job security. I don’t know about most of you but there’s a fine line with employers and sometimes if you say no, you are out of a job. There are other times that you can get away with it, and the employer may even respect you for vocalizing the “no”. Choose your battles wisely.
In our relationships, we have to learn what we can and can’t agree to. I know for me, it’s crucial for me to be there for my partner. But that doesn’t mean that I’m going to let them walk all over me. Teamwork is a key for any relationship to thrive and there has to be some give and take. Otherwise, the main person giving in the relationship feels like they are being taken advantage of and there is some truth to this statement.
I know there are many areas of all of our lives that it’s difficult to say no. But here’s the thing, sometimes we have to look out for ourselves because when we come through for everyone else, there’s a little piece of us that gets drained. I’m not saying never agree to anything. I’m only saying to let yourself say no if you feel things are too much.
I’m not an expert in this field by any means. I am a human being who has taken on more than they should have and learned my own limitations. Sometimes the opportunity is so big that we feel we can’t say no. It all boils down to you. When you stand up for yourself and say no, you can’t be wishy washy. You have to hold your ground. There are many of us out there who will give a feeble no and be talked into something none of us are comfortable with. Stay firm and true to who you are. You don’t have to be rude. You just have to be okay with you.
If you really feel like maybe you could do something and don’t want to, consider buying yourself some time. You could say something like, “if you can wait a little while, I’ll be glad to do this for you but right now it’s not a good time.” This doesn’t always work but you get the idea. You never want to burn any bridges if you can avoid it but be willing to leave the door open.
Look at the possiblity of compromising. I know it’s not one of our favorite things to do but many times we can turn the no’s into a compromise. This has been really helpful for me. There’s been a lot of times where I would compromise and it kept issues from escalating.
There are two other things I want you to remember. If you do learn to start saying no, then don’t allow yourself to feel guilty. I have felt really guilty for saying no more than once and it was because I didn’t want to let others down. While this is normal, it’s really important that you remember that you owe it to yourself to take care of you. The other thing I want you to remember is in line with this. Please be true to yourself. If you say no because you just don’t want to, that’s one thing but if you are the only one who can make the changes needed, ask yourself what you are really saying no over. You don’t have to wrestle with every scenario.
When we learn to say “no”, then we are learning to say “yes” to healthier living, better relationships, and better opportunities. Don’t just say the word to get out of something you don’t really want, use it to make a better life for you in the long run.