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The power of “NO”

The power of “NO”

I wonder how many of us automatically say “yes” when someone asks something of us? There can be a million different reasons* for it such as:

· Guilt

· People-pleasing

· Fear

· Wanting to be well-thought-of

· Habit

· Coercion

· Conflict-avoidance

· A need to be needed

· We feel we “should” say yes

· Anxiety about appearing inadequate

One of the many problems with always saying yes is that it gives control of our lives to other people, often leaving us exhausted, resentful and unseen. How will others know we really mean yes, if it is our default setting?

Cloud and Townsend believe:

If when we say no, our NO is not acknowledged and respected and we find ourselves giving in or avoiding saying no at all, then our “yes” is really nothing but avoiding conflict, peacekeeping, and approval seeking.”

So what do we do if saying no seems impossible?

Mary Warner suggests that practicing saying no is a skill that can be learned, but initially it can feel very anxiety-provoking or uncomfortable. So how do we get to that point of being able to say no?

Getting to the root cause behind our need to say no is the first step and for some, that will mean coaching or counselling. Perhaps it would be helpful to consider the following questions:

· When did saying yes to everything begin?

· What was the fallout of saying no when you were a child?

· By saying yes to everything, what did you learn to believe about yourself?

· What impact has saying yes to everything had on your life and choices?

· What difference would it make to you if you learned to say no and created boundaries for yourself?

Dr. Emily Anhalt suggests that the inability to say no, or create boundaries or ourselves demonstrates that we have never learned to advocate for ourselves and Dr.Nicole Washington claims that:

“Saying no is one of the greatest acts of self-care we can give ourselves.”

Oft quoted, but often misinterpreted, is the belief that we should love our neighbour as ourselves – the problem being that inadvertently we love our neighbour instead of ourselves! Learning to be positively assertive and say no enables us to:

  • To rest and recuperate

  • Stay true to our core values

  • Boundary setting (Blog on assertiveness in progress!)

For a bit of fun, try this test!

Although it can be difficult, it is never too late to start putting in boundaries and learning to say no, but sometimes it helps to have someone encouraging us as we put this into practice.

Food for thought…

Have you ever needed to ask someone for a favour or help with something but hesitate to ask because you are never sure if they really mean yes, or whether you are actually causing them major inconvenience or stress? How does that make you feel?

I am aware that I am much happier asking someone whose yes really means yes because I trust that they will say no if they are not able to help.

What do you think? Please let me know in the comments below!

*If this is something that interests you, please do drop me a message – I would love to have a conversation with you as all of these areas can be worked on at Dare To Soar Transformational Coaching.

Further reading:

Cloud and Townsend: Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No To Take Control of Your Life

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