Self care: the art of saying “no”

How to say no Effectively and Gracefully

 Why is saying “no” so hard sometimes? Whether it’s saying no to that delicious chocolate cake, saying no to spending money on something you know you don’t need, or saying no to a child when you know he will be disappointed, it can sometimes be difficult to honor what we know is best for us and our loved ones. At the same time, it is essential to develop the “no muscle” so you can live more authentically.

Identifying what gets in the way of saying no helps you to move through these obstacles and increase your comfort level.

I feel so guilty when I say no.
When we feel guilt, it implies that we have done something wrong. Sometimes we are conditioned to believe that choices we make are wrong, even when we know they aren’t. At times, we react to old guilt for choices we have not forgiven ourselves for. For instance, many newly divorced parents find it difficult to say no to their children because they feel guilty about the sadness or hardship their children may be suffering. While mommy guilt is common, it is necessary to change the behavior or expectation that is causing the guilt, so it can be released. Releasing guilt frees you to say no when your heart and intuition is telling you to do so.

It’s so much easier to say yes.
Sometimes saying no requires a lot of self-discipline. It may even call for us to take an honest look at some old habits that aren’t serving us. If setting boundaries is difficult for you, it may feel much easier to just say yes in the moment. Yes can be familiar and comfortable, however, thinking about how uncomfortable you will be when you have to fullfill what you said yes to, may help you put in perspective.  Saying no to over booking, over obligating, over extending ourselves, is critical to your serenity, and the peace it allows will re inforce you in saying no the next time. The good news is a new habit can be learned and reinforced in about 21 days.

 I am afraid of people’s reactions or judgments.
There is no doubt people will sometimes react negatively when we say no, and a few individuals may cast judgment. There have been many times myself that I have felt extremely disappointed when someone told me no. When we hear no, it often means we aren’t going to get “our way”. Some of us handle that better than others. However, this should never deter you from saying no, especially if the issue is important to you. Others’ reactions and judgments belong to them, and not to you. Focusing on what you can control rather then what you can not control may help you to let go of your fear of their reactions.  Give yourself permission to take care of yourself, and let others do the same. 
I’m not sure what I want, or I don’t trust myself.
It can be hard to say no when we’re not sure if our answer is yes or no. Some decisions in life come with a fair amount of uncertainty. Unfortunately, there is no real guarantee that we are always going to make the “right” decision, if there is one. Perhaps you’ve made a decision in the past, thinking you were doing the right thing, and it didn’t turn out so good leaving you wracked with self doubt.  Even when that little voice inside is screaming at us to say no, we ignore it, or question it. Remember saying no rarely has any real serious consequences, and it’s always okay to change your mind.   At least buy yourself some time to think it through.  “Let me check my schedule and get back to you, let me check with my family…” are extremely helpful phrases in the event that you are’t sure.

I don’t know how to say no gracefully
While it may feel less awkard to say no gracefully, you may have to go back to letting go of pleasing others.  No matter how you deliver the message it still is what it is.  Regardless, learning to eloquently express ourselves when saying no is worthwhile. It’s important to communicate clearly what our needs are, and at the same time, stay cognizant of how our message might be received. Role playing, visualizing yourself saying it, and practicing it in the mirror can be very beneficial in helping you feel comfortable, and reprogram your old default “yes” response.  Once again, at the very least, use the “let me get back to you” default and buy yourself time to come up with a way to say no that you are more comfortable with.

Saying no is a skill that gets easier with practice. Start today by identifying opportunities to honor yourself more fully by saying no!

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