It’s important to say “yes” to things that happen to us in our lives, good and bad. Saying “no” is just as important… and maybe even more so.
I won’t go into a long, navel-gazing dissertation about why people — women in particular — feel compelled to take on tasks and responsibilities that stretch their patience, their health and their time. If knowing your “why” is important, and something that keeps you stuck, I recommend that you find a licensed therapist who can help you figure it out so you can move forward.
For others, however, the “why” isn’t as important as the ability and willingness to take action to remedy it, to take back control of their lives.
Saying “no” is a vital part of setting boundaries, which leads to good mental and emotional health. You know this because you feel resentful even as you agree to do things that are not in your own best interest. Your problem is that you don’t know how to say “no” without being a bitch and without feeling guilty.
A couple of points:
- You are not responsible for how others feel about you. Just because someone calls you selfish or a bitch doesn’t mean you are. It’s not what someone calls you — it’s what you answer to. People who will call you names for saying “no” are the same ones who will call you weak, wishy-washy and a doormat if you give in all the time. And they will continue to prey on you because you’re an easy mark.
- You cannot win people’s love or affection by what you do for them — and if you can, then you are in an unhealthy relationship. Love is unconditional. You are not lovable because of what you do, but because of who you are.
And if someone tells you that you must earn their love by doing what they want, run away. Fast.
- You have no reason to be guilty for wanting what you want. You have the right to do what’s best for you. Doing what’s right for you makes you strong and healthy. Doing what’s right for others, at your expense, makes you weak and sickly. And then you are no good at all to the important people in your life.
When someone tries to guilt you into doing something you don’t want to, remember, “No” is a complete sentence. You don’t have to offer reasons or excuses or otherwise justify your behavior. This is vital to remember, especially if you are prone to being manipulated by guilt — because manipulators are extremely good at using your weasel-words to get you to say yes.
Here are some examples:
- You: “Gee, I would love to help you out, but I just don’t have the time right now.”
- Him: “Hey, no problem! There’s no rush. When do you think you could get to it?”
- You: “That’s really beyond my area of expertise.”
- Her: “Not at all! You are such a bright person, you’ll be able to figure it out in no time.”
- You: “I’ve already got too much to do.”
- Him: “But you’re so efficient; I’m sure you can squeeze it in.”
If someone is trying to get you to do something you don’t want to do, just say “no,” all by itself or in one of these variations. And please note – none of these are bitchy. Just clear, firm and unmistakably “no.”
- “Thank you, but no.”
- “No, but I appreciate you thinking about me.”
- “No thank you.”
- “That’s very nice, but no. I’m not interested.”
- “No, I can’t do that.”
If you try to apologize or explain, you open yourself up for continued pushing. Just say no. And keep repeating it until they either stop asking or you walk away.
Sometimes you need to say “no” to others in order to say “yes” to yourself. You’re worth it.
Do you have problems saying “no”? Who or what is your biggest stumbling block?