Have you found that your time is somehow always committed to doing things that you really don’t want to do? Most people just don’t know how to say “no” to people who put unnecessary demands on their time. If you have a people-pleasing heart, but you are seeing that your generosity is starting to eat away at your life, it’s time to develop a backbone and learn how to say “no” to others and “yes” to yourself.
The courage to say no
Working up the courage to say “no” can be difficult for some people. If this is you, the first step to getting your life back is accepting that you are a softy. It’s perfectly fine if you are a softy, too. Being nice, generous and kind-hearted are good traits to have in today’s world—just don’t let the vultures take advantage of your goodness.
Practice saying no
The first thing to understand when learning how to say “no” is that you should practice saying it. That may sound silly, but many of us need to learn how to say it. Say it aloud to yourself using different tones of voice. Watch yourself in the mirror as you say it. Practice saying “no” until your voice and face reflect your authenticity. If you don’t master how to say it, someone making a request of you will be able to tell and they may start pecking away at you until you give in to their requests. Practice saying “no” and make sure your voice is strong and clear. You don’t have to shout it or say it in a hateful way. A firm, clear “no” will get the job done.
Be firm and act confident
When you first start saying “no” to people and their unrealistic demands of your time, it is important that you don’t leave the door open. If your neighbor asks you to dog-sit while they are on a three-week vacation and you are not an animal lover or you simply don’t want the responsibility—it is best to simply say, “No. I’m sorry but I don’t really get along well with dogs.” or, “No. I’m sorry I don’t have the time to give an animal the attention he needs,” instead of, “Well, I’m busy during that time, maybe next time, though.” If you are not clear the first time, you will be asked again and again.
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One of the hardest areas in life to learn to say “no” is when it comes to family and friends. When it comes to these loved ones, evaluate their requests. If it is a truly legitimate need and you can meet the need, go for it. If the person needing something is always your cousin Susie or your sister-in-law Karen and she is always asking you to watch her kids on the weekends, stand up for yourself and say “no” but tell her why as honestly as you can. Make it clear that your reasons for saying “no” aren’t a reflection on her, just that you need more time for yourself. When telling a family or friend “no” use more sentences that begin with “I” instead of “you”.
If you are involved in a club, organization, committee or church, it is only natural that you may be asked to do things. However, if it seems that you are the one doing all the work all of the time, it’s time to stand up for yourself and just say “no.” This is not a sticky situation if you handle it correctly. For instance, if you are asked to make 100 cupcakes say, “No. I can’t make 100 cupcakes. But, I’d be happy to buy 25.” If you are the one who is always asked to be in charge of a fundraising event such as an auction or rummage sale, say “No. I can’t be in charge this year. I’d be happy to donate some items, though.” Remember, you are in charge of your life and your time. Step up to the plate and take control of it or you’ll never have time for yourself or that hot love-life that you’ve been fantasizing about.
The power of no
There are numerous other areas where learning to say “no” can benefit your life. If you are hounded by phone solicitors and find yourself listening for 15 minutes about a vacation spot in Greenland, simply tell them within the first minute “No. I’m not interested.” If they continue to disregard your statement, hang up. If they are rude enough to continue, you have permission to hang up and don’t feel bad about it.
If being a softy is putting a dent in your wallet, it is very important to your finances that you learn to say “no.” If you are bombarded by charities, decide at the first of each year which ones you are going to support. Once you are asked by other charities if you will support them, simply say, “No. I have already donated all of my charitable funds for the year.” If they are a cause worthy of your time and interest, add them to next year’s lists of charities. Don’t get in the habit of giving all your money away—that money could better be spent on a romantic getaway with your lover or on a new, sexy outfit that makes you feel good about yourself.
Once you learn to say “no” to the impossible demands that people put on you, you will have more time for yourself and for love. Prioritize what is important, become empowered and practice saying “no.” Before long you will be on your way to a happier, more relaxing life that will give you the time you need for love. You will also find that standing your ground doesn’t make you a monster; it just makes you a human!