Many of us struggle with saying “no” to other people. We may worry about disappointing someone, or about failing to be the type of person others can count on. But learning to say no – and to accept it when others say no to us – is an important part of self care. When we say no we are able to preserve time for ourselves, while also modeling the good behavior of boundary setting.
Sharon L. Johnson offers the following guidelines to help overcome the guilt of saying no:
- Is the request reasonable?
- Ask for more information to clarify what all the facts are.
- Practice saying “no.”
- Quit apologizing, if it is something that you do not want to do or cannot do. Banish, “I’m sorry, but…” from your vocabulary.
She follows up with a review on the consequences of saying “yes.”
- You will end up angry with yourself for doing something you don’t want to do.
- It will get in the way or distract you from doing things you really want to do.
- Resentment develops and builds on itself.
- Because you are doing something you don’t want to do, but aren’t being honest, it leads to a lack of communication and dishonest communication.
Many of us feel overworked and depleted because we are uncomfortable saying no to certain things. Making a pact with yourself – or an accountability partner – can help you say no to doing too much, and reserve some downtime for yourself. Of course, if you are a person who always says “no” to everything, your opportunity to stretch and grow may be in committing to say yes to new things that boost your happiness and connection to your community.
PC&CC counselors are always available to consult on stress relief and self-care techniques.
Information culled from Sharon L. Johnson’s Therapist’s Guide to Clinical Interventions.