How many times have you agreed to do something that you actually didn’t want to do? For someone at work? Your friends? Even your spouse? All you had to do was say no, but the word didn’t come out. So you end up doing it…and later resent it.
A coaching client said to me she was agreeing to things she didn’t want to do, but for some reason, she felt obliged to do them. Instead of taking enjoyment in the task, she would later feel angry with herself and resentful towards the person she had said ‘yes’ to.
So then she went on to list further reasons why she wanted to say no. I stopped her by saying, “You are even justifying yourself to me!” We feel we have to justify ourselves and give extremely good reasons for saying no. Even when the reason is simply: “I don’t want to.”
Check-in With Yourself
I asked my client what was one thing she could do to work on this. She suggested she start checking in with herself before saying yes or no. You can ask yourself, “Is this right for me?” “Why am I feeling obligated?” Support yourself in doing what feels right and well with you. And if it’s not something for you, try expressing that no.
Have Fun With It!
Saying no doesn’t have to be serious or angry. My client also wanted to lighten up, so I recommended she try stirring it up a little, to have fun with it. You can try out different responses like, “Nope, never as long as I live” or “Babysit your kids – are you crazy?” What are some other great responses you can try to make ‘saying no’ more fun?
Make a List
I suggested my client list the areas and people in her life where she had the most trouble saying no. I told her it was up to her what to do with that list. Where do you have trouble saying no? Is it perhaps time to have some honest conversations with people?
Try this: “This is what I have been doing. I have been saying yes, when I have wanted to say no. I am starting to feel resentful and I don’t want to feel that way. I don’t want to offend you, and I need to start listening to myself.” At the very least, they will have a heads-up that things might be a little different from now one. And – it helps you make an internal shift.
Taking the Plunge
So what is the worst that could happen by saying no? You might lose some people in your life who are used to you doing what they want. Living an authentic life can seem tough. Sometimes there will be unwelcome consequences.
And I say: Bring on the consequences! In the end, it’s worth it.