I spent several decades as a “people pleaser” (now well on the road to recovery), so know just how incredibly difficult it is to say NO.
Recently whilst with friends, we found ourselves doing an activity which we wouldn’t normally choose to do. When asked what he thought, Hubbie said that he was OK but “silently seething”. Silently seething doesn’t normally enter his emotional spectrum, and I suspect he said what he did to raise a laugh, but there was clearly a resistance present! Why was NO so difficult?
We all have our own life path to follow. If we fail to say NO at suitable times, however, we can stray off that path and, over time, start to tread the path of martyrdom instead. Often whilst we do so, we seethe and feel resentment which drains us of yet more energy.
Often we are swept along by a stronger personality. A few times I have been asked to partake in a new venture with someone. Each time I took the baton and expended lots of energy, only to find on next meeting that the other party had long forgotten the original conversation and was now pursuing a completely different trail of thinking. This scenario isn’t so much one requiring an immediate NO, as hitting a pause button. Why have I included it here? Both scenarios require an awareness to jealously guard one’s precious time and energy.
These are just a few of the things I have learnt:
- Dance to your own tune, not to someone else’s. It’s YOUR life.
- Be crystal clear about your life’s path so that you cannot be diverted from it so easily.
- Go with your gut. If your instinct is screaming “Hell, no”, then go with that, though perhaps decline a little more politely!
- Put another way, do you experience “Heart- SING” or “Heart-SINK”? Only one small letter difference but WHAT a difference !!! If you feel that sinking feeling – say NO.
- Don’t give an answer straightaway. Give yourself time to think, draw breath, and then say no (or yes if you so wish).
- Remember that NO is a complete sentence. Detailed footnotes are not required alongside a refusal.
- Recognise the energy- and time- vampires amongst your family, friends and colleagues (and society in general).
- Saying NO (nicely of course) feels good. It’s a confidence booster. Everyone knows where they are at, there is no sub-textual resentment brewing, and no energy wasted!!
- Ask yourself, does it need doing at all? Is it ME that needs to do it? Could someone else do it? (Do, ditch or delegate)
- Do I choose to do it?
- Sometimes NO isn’t an option. Sometimes we are the only one able to do a job (such as tend to a sick parent). In reality, however, we do actually choose our action, even if only out of duty. If we feel a heart-sink whilst saying “yes”, choose to do whatever it is with grace and good humour.
Many years ago, when I had ME, I had so little energy that I HAD to learn to say NO. I did not wish to waste what little energy I had on other people’s stuff.
My advice? Don’t wait until illness strikes, before annunciating, loud and clear that short and simple word, NO!!!
See my blog post on Bach Flower Essence Centaury which helps us set healthy boundaries