…even when we really need to!
When you’re really used to saying yes to everything, it can be hard to say no… even one time!
Has this ever happened to you?
You’ve been considering a request. You’ve been back and forth, back and forth in your mind. Maybe you want to say no, but the person keeps bugging you about it. Or maybe you’re just tired of thinking about it. Ultimately, you’re so sick of the whole thing that you give in to doing whatever it is.
Why is it so tough to say no?
There are many reasons why it can be tough to say no.
Saying yes may be your automatic response to a request, particularly if you’re a people pleaser, empath or helper. Old habits die hard.
Another reason why it’s hard to say no is actually our own thoughts! Weird as it sounds, we allow our thoughts to talk us out of saying no, over and over again.
In this post, we’ll review some tricky thoughts that are getting in your way of saying no. We’ll also look at how to talk back to those thoughts!
Tricky Thought #1: “They have no one else.”
There has to be someone else. A family member, a friend, a neighbor…
What did this person do before you were in their life? Surely they were able to resolve things another way.
If you’ve always been in this person’s life – say, you’re their mom – the best thing for this person may very well be to help themselves.
Even if they won’t be able to complete what they’re asking for help with as easily as you can. It’s important to allow people a chance to find out what they’re capable of.
Tricky Thought #2: “No one else can help them as well as I can.”
This is a tricky thought, indeed! It not only talks us out of saying “no,” it also boosts our ego in the process.
It’s nice feeling like we’re the best at something. It makes us feel special.
No one can help this person the way I can.
You may or may not be right about that, but it’s besides the point. The point is, the person in question can and will survive sub-par help for an afternoon, a day, a weekend…
Life is not perfect, and no one should expect to be helped ‘perfectly’ 24/7. I bet even you can’t make that happen. After all, you are a human being, not a robot!
Tricky Thought #3: “I don’t have a good reason to say no.”
I always assumed that if someone asked me to do something, and I was free at that time, that in order to stay aligned with my view of myself as a kind person, I had to do the thing.
IN. CORR. ECT.
You can absolutely say no to something, even if you have nothing else planned.
Needing time to take care of yourself or run errands is a good enough reason. For that matter, not wanting to do it is a good enough reason!
Tricky Thought #4: “If I say no, they won’t like me.”
If the only reason that people like you is because you do things for them, that’s a red flag.
A true friend, or a healthy family member, might be disappointed if you say no to something. You will disappoint people sometimes in life; it’s unavoidable. But they’ll still like you.
Trust that people appreciate you for who you are. You don’t have to ‘earn’ their friendship with help or kind acts.
What if the person making the request is my boss?
You should be able to say no to authority figures, too. Especially if they’re asking you to do something unreasonable, unethical, or that isn’t part of your job description.
If you don’t feel like you can say no to your boss without being punished or fired, that is really tough. For many people in the U.S. that is the case, particularly people of color and other marginalized folks.
Is doing what you’re asked worth losing your job over? If it violates your personal values, it might be. But I also know that it can be difficult to find another job, and you may need income to survive.
Only you can decide what is best for you.
If this blog post helped you, please scroll down and press the “like” button.
Have you said no to something recently? And if so, how did it go? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.
Yours in nay-saying,
Rebecca Ogle is a licensed therapist who practices teletherapy in Illinois. Rebecca empowers therapy clients to cope with anxiety, depression, self-esteem, and burnout using their natural strengths and inner wisdom.