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How Saying "No" Can Change Your Life

Are you a 'yes' person? There's a lot of us around. We just want to help everyone out, and keep everyone happy. Unfortunately, the truth is that we're making things worse. Saying “yes” can actually be the worst thing to do for yourself, and for others.


Do You Know How to Say No?

You might not even realize that you are a 'yes' person. But there are a few tell-tale signs of not being able to say “no” in a person.

Do you:

  • Take on additional responsibility even when you have no time to?   
  • Find yourself overwhelmed with all the little things you 'have' to do?
  • Feel like your attention is constantly divided between different projects?
  • Feel like you're the only one putting in all the effort in a situation?
  • Have no time to really be yourself?
  • Find yourself neglecting self-care practices?
  • Fail at healthy eating plans whenever someone offers you a treat food?
  • Constantly multi-task?

If these sound like you, chances are, you are saying “yes” too often.


How Saying “Yes” Is Paralyzing

Is saying “yes” really that bad, though, I hear you ask. The truth is, saying “yes” can be one of the most paralyzing things you can do in your life. By constantly saying “yes” to everything, you lose the ability to focus your energy on the important things.

People also often feel overwhelmed by choice, and say “yes” to everything, just in case they're missing out otherwise. This can leave you over-burdened and burnt out.

You are also saying “no”, but to yourself. A person who says “yes” to everything is generally neglecting their own needs. Your health and mental well-being will suffer if you take on everything and don't take a break from it occasionally.


Creating Your Dream Life with “No”

Everyone wants to live their own dream life. Unfortunately, most people believe that they don't have time to achieve their dreams and goals. Nine times out of ten, this is because they've over-committed to other people.

By learning to say “no”, you're learning to say “yes” to your own life and learning to take control. It gives you the space to say “yes” to the opportunities that really appeal and have the potential to transform your life.

Saying “no” can even be just to the little things at first. You can say “no” to the birthday party of someone you're not very close to, or going out with friends when you're tired. You can say “no” to that extra hour of overtime when you want to spend time on your new hobby. Each “no” adds up.


How to Say “No” When You're a ‘Yes’ Person

So, if you've been a ‘yes’ person all your life, is it actually possible to start saying “no”? It is, but it just takes practice. Luckily, there are a few easy steps for you to try today when you need to say “no” to someone's request.


Take a Breath

A lot of the time, we will say “yes” automatically, without actually considering the ramifications. This is one of the main ways that people end up over-committed.

Instead, take a moment to take a breath, and think about what is being asked. Is it something you really want to do? Is it vital that you do it? Or is it something that will weigh you down and take away from your energy unnecessarily? If the latter, proceed to the next step.


Be Grateful

Take another moment. Don't worry, the other person won't die if you take a few moments to consider things. Use this moment to be grateful for the opportunity. When you are going to say “no”, it's important to remember that you are being offered a chance at something, even if you don't want the chance.

If you like, you can express that gratitude out loud. Say to the person, “Thank you for thinking of me.” Or you can simply take a moment to feel grateful, before saying “no”.


Be Honest

This is the biggest part that people need in order to feel empowered when saying “no”. Saying “yes” too often is often a case of dishonesty, either to the person asking, or to yourself.

First, ask yourself if you can honestly take this on without it being a negative in your life. Will it mean less healing sleep before a big day? Does it mean missing out on your favorite hobby for the week? Examine the impact that saying yes would have on your life.

Then, be honest with the person asking. Tell them straight up, “I don't have the time to take this on”, or “I have other commitments at the present time”. People respond best to clear, simple honesty.


Respectfully Decline

Finally, it's time to say “no”. Being respectful is important, as you want to assume the person means no harm by asking. Saying “no” doesn't mean burning bridges, but rather the start of enforcing your own boundaries.

Keep it simple. Even saying something like “Thank you for thinking of me. Unfortunately, I'm unable to take on extra hours at this time, so I will have to say no” is enough. 95% of the time, this will be satisfactory, and they can go on to ask someone else for assistance.


If Needed, Be Assertive

Unfortunately, a small percentage of people will push you after you've declined. This is when you need to be assertive about what is doable for you. It's no time to fold and give in!

If they start to try and persuade you to change your mind, restate that you are unable to help. If they still persist, remove yourself from the situation. Walking away from someone after declining twice is not rude. It's necessary.

The important thing to note is that assertive doesn't mean aggressive. An assertive person is confident in their decision, and can remain neutral while talking about it. If you find yourself growing angry, it's time to go and cool off, away from the person.


By implementing these steps, you can learn how to pick and choose how you spend your life.