“No” isn’t a Bad Word

no?Even though I posted about holiday self-care yesterday, I wanted to revisit this specific issue. Saying “no” and setting boundaries isn’t important only during the holidays. In fact, this is an issue that most of us face daily. And it can get even harder during the holidays. There are always more activities than anyone can actually attend, more requests than anyone can actually fulfill. Oh, and there are those pesky expectations: for a perfect meal, a picture-card family moment, the “just right” gift. . .you know the drill.

Many of my clients struggle with “no.” There are lots of reasons for this struggle. Here are just a few that I hear in the office:

  • I don’t want to let someone down.
  • I don’t want to be seen as incapable.
  • I’m afraid they won’t ask again.
  • I will feel so guilty if I say no.
  • I don’t want to be selfish.

Do any of those sound familiar? Maybe like something you’ve said before? Maybe like something you’ve said today? If so, then I want you to repeat after me: [tbpquotable]“No” is not a bad word.”[/tbpquotable] Great. Maybe you could say it again. (If you don’t want to, you can always tell me “no.”)

I have been a tiny bit of an overachiever during different parts of my life (this is not a huge revelation–the graduate degrees were a dead giveaway). “No” has been a word that I struggled with. Because I don’t want to disappoint someone who is counting on me. Because I care about being seen as a team player, a contributor, someone you can count on.

My journey to become more comfortable with “no” has been a bumpy one at times. But I had one of those bite-you-on-the-nose kind of learning experiences. I said “yes” too much. I put too many balls in the air. And then I dropped most of them. Spectacularly. In a “things are broken” kind of way. I got to eat a lot of humble pie. I learned that I have limits, whether I want to own them or not. And I learned that an honest “no” is a better way of being in my communities than an over-committed “yes.”

These days, I’m better at “no.” Not perfect, but better. And my “yeses” mean more, because they include the ability to follow-through. I’d love to invite you to think about how you relate to “yes” and “no.” Is there some balance in how you use them? Do you feel comfortable saying “no” when a “yes” would overstretch your boundaries? What are the messages you give yourself about “no?”

After you think about that, I’m inviting you to consider a “no” experiment. Try saying “no” at least one more time than you would have done normally. If that’s too hard right away, maybe you can use the, “let me check” or “let me think about it” response instead of an automatic “yes.” Because “no” isn’t a bad word. It is a word that allows us to check our boundaries, assess our existing commitments, and then respond in a way that honors them all.

What was your best experience saying “no?” When was it hardest?

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

davidwcovington.com

Beyond Behavioral Health

hcldr

Healthcare Leadership Blog

Figuring. Shit. Out.

life seems to dish it out. i seem to write about it.

wellfesto

hacking health, designing life

Just Talking Podcast

A free-flowing conversation with purpose. There's no pressure, we're Just Talking

A Consequence of Hypoglycemia.

What good is an incurable disease if you can’t share it with the rest of the world.

inDpendence

Sometimes Diabetes Takes Center Stage

regrounding

of chemo, cancer and facing life head-on

Dr Catherine Rose

Inspiring Hope

Telling Knots

About 30% of people diagnosed with breast cancer at any stage will develop distal metastasis. I am one.

Ann Becker-Schutte, Ph.D.

Help at the Intersection of Physical and Emotional Health

eatbreatherun

Eating, Running & Fighting Against Lung Cancer

Is it Possible?

Making it Possible in 10 steps or less!

Warm Southern Breeze

"... there is no such thing as nothing."

health communication source

curating the people & organizations that make health com happen

The Musings of a Cancer Research Advocate

It's All About the Evidence...

shadow7788

The greatest WordPress.com site in all the land!

Tonya Miles, PsyD

Mental Health Matters

The Pollock Group

Professional Psychology Services

Voice in Recovery (ViR)™

Prevention, Advocacy, Intervention, Recovery (PAIR)™

%d bloggers like this: