It’s a very short word – only two letters long. It’s one of the first words we learns as toddlers. … So why is it so hard to say?
I find it really, really hard to say ‘no’ to people. I’m not naive or gullible, but I have struggled my whole life with this need to be liked. I will bend over backwards for anyone – even people I hardly know – just so I don’t have to inconvenience them. It’s the best way to sabotage your own life – because once people learn that you can’t say ‘no’, they will take advantage of you and use up not only your time, but your resources and your energy.
I’ve given plenty of my precious time to people who didn’t deserve it. I’ve given things I still needed away in order to help other people who were actually better off than me. I’ve ‘lent’ a lot of money to someone who (by choice) works less than I do, knowing I will never get it back. You would have thought I’d have learnt my lesson by now, but it’s only just starting to sink in … ‘no’ is a very important word and I need to learn how to use it. It’s far better to inconvenience someone, even offend them, than it is to lose my time and my sanity trying to keep everyone (but myself) happy. Saying ‘no’ might not make me popular with some people, but it’s the best thing for my mental health right now. And if those people can’t respect that, I guess they don’t respect me.
I had a colleague at work who was very good at saying ‘no’. I’ll be honest, at first I thought she was a bit selfish. But now I’m realising that she was smart. Always saying ‘yes’ doesn’t make you kind and generous – it makes you overworked and overwhelmed.
Of course, I’m not saying I won’t help anyone out ever again! There are still some little projects – which I’ve been spending time on since my ‘no’ revelation – that take up time away from my family. But they’re worth it. They help out people who need help, and/or they make me feel happy and fulfilled. The key is not to burn yourself out for people that ultimately don’t care about you. People who don’t need you, but use you because you let yourself be used.
Are you a serial ‘yes’-woman/man? Do you think your life could be more fulfilling and less crazy if you learned to say ‘no’? Join me for No-vember and let’s start prioritising our own lives and owning our own time! Because in No-vember, we’re not just saying ‘no’ to other people, we’re saying ‘yes’ to ourselves.
Images from Pixabay.