It’s a two-letter, single-syllable phrase, however saying it comes with loads of baggage. Of course, the phrase in query is “no,” and I can assure that I’m not the one one who can’t appear to verbalize it. For ladies particularly, there’s no scarcity of issues wrapped up in shutting down a request to provide our serving to fingers. That’s why this 12 months, I’ve dedicated to studying how to say no—firmly, proudly, convincingly—and it’s taking priority above all else.
So why will we fall into this entice? If you’re like me (and actually, everybody else on the planet), then you understand it could possibly really feel sooo good to absorb the look of appreciation while you provide to babysit a pal’s kiddo. And don’t get me began on the sensation of gratification while you give an enthusiastic sure! in response to being requested to tackle (yet one more) work venture. While assist is straightforward to provide up, it could possibly shortly lead to overwhelm because of the numerous commitments you’ve piled on high of your already prolonged checklist of to-do’s.
Featured picture by Teal Thomsen.
To get the all-important answers, I connected with Michaela Bucchianeri, a medical psychologist and nervousness coach dedicated to serving to people obtain their best stage of wellness and lead a extra genuine life. Below, Bucchianeri breaks down the why behind our tendency to overcommit, telltale indicators that we must always decline a suggestion or alternative, and 6 actionable methods to truly say no—and imply it.
The need to say sure! each time Something is Asked of Us is actual and extremely highly effective. Why?
I alluded to the standard suspects above—and the explanations behind them—however it bears repeating. The very visceral attract to leap in when something is requested of us can really feel almost unimaginable to deny. And step one in studying to join with our fact and say no, in fact, is to perceive why we volunteer our time and efforts within the first place.
Bucchianeri chimes in: “The smile, sigh of relief, and immediate thanks we get when we say ‘yes’ to a request are powerful signals that we’ve done the right thing. Whether or not we realize it, most of us are strongly motivated by this.”
She’s fast to be aware, nonetheless, that different elements might contribute. It might be your background, household construction, or one thing out of your previous that motivates you to search validation from others. “Certain life experiences might have trained us to put the needs of others above our own in order to maintain harmony, security, or even safety in our environment,” she says.
Why might this phenomenon impact women more than men?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m well aware that overcommitting is a common tendency regardless of gender, but women have been conditioned and socialized to believe that likability is our most important, valued trait. As a result, we often prioritize others’ needs above our own.
“When a woman behaves in ways that align with our collective understanding of ‘agreeable,’” says Bucchianeri, “she is often rewarded with positive feedback, which strengthens this tendency over time.”
What are signs that we should say no?
I’ve long believed that the answers we’re looking for can be found within ourselves—and Bucchianeri agrees. “We can learn a lot from observing patterns in our own behavior. Our emotional responses, for example, can provide valuable information.”
She imparts a little sage wisdom: Pause before you commit. “Don’t judge yourself; just get curious: Do you notice anger? Overwhelm? Sadness? These can be powerful indicators that our actions are out of alignment with our values.”
“If you find that you’re experiencing resentment when you agree to certain commitments, it might be worth renegotiating your boundaries.”
How can we decide to say no?
As with many things in life, it all comes down to boundaries. By taking stock, and what Bucchianeri calls, an “honest review” of your boundaries, you can gain significant insights into what you have space and time to commit to. “Take some time to reflect on your values and prioritize those relationships and activities that support your goals before the requests start rolling in.”
From there, our old standby, mindfulness comes into play. “Rather than rushing to say ‘yes,’” says Bucchianeri, “pause and check in with yourself to determine how you feel. What do you notice in your body? This can be useful data to help guide our decision making.”
How can we deal with the guilt that may arise when we say no?
First off, guilt is totally normal! It can be uncomfortable to practice new ways of being. “Habit formation takes time,” says Bucchianeri. Before anything else, she encourages you to practice patience with yourself. “Try to focus on what motivated you to change your behavior in the first place. Remember: You’ll get there.”
What are ways we can say no to communicate our needs with compassion?
“Depending on the circumstances (e.g., what’s being asked of you, who’s doing the asking), you can tailor your ‘no’ accordingly.” Below, Bucchianeri offers a few options to put into practice.
- Thank you for thinking of me, but I can’t right now.
- Unfortunately, I have to pass this time.
- I’m afraid I don’t have the capacity to show up fully for this.
- I’m overcommitted at the moment, but please ask me again next [time, month, year].
- I don’t think I’m the right person for this, but _______ might be interested.
- I can’t help with this, but I’d be glad to __________ instead.