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How to Say NO; Even if it's Hard

We’ve all heard the line, “just say NO.” But it can be challenging to set a boundary especially if you are used to being accommodating. It’s good to try to be there for others, but do not forget to be there for yourself.


People pleasing has to do with trading you own needs for validation from others. If you were raised in a family where pleasing others was the currency of receiving love, it’s a strategy that may have become an ingrained behavior. But today, you are a different person, so consider that instead of worrying about being rejected, do not reject yourself.


As a recovering people pleaser, I know that the more you become aware of your own needs, the more you can take action that’s better aligned with them. You are not responsible for someone else’s  happiness; and you will be fine without turning yourself into a pretzel for others approval. Find out what works for you – for your physical, mental and emotional well-being – that is a key to creating a path you are excited to be on.


Today I want to give you some practical  ways to say “no” to family and friends, as well as in the workplace.


For Family and Friends:

1. Never give an automatic YES. Instead say, “Let me check my calendar, and get back to you.”


2. I’m so overstretched; I just have to focus on my needs right now. I need to get back to  myself, so I’ll have to say no. I hope you understand.


3. I’ve given it a lot of thought and I can’t do something that doesn’t feel right to me. We see things different ways on this – You know I care about you, but I have to do what feels right. I hope you respect my decision.


4.  I don’t want to start something I know I won’t have time to finish. Sorry I can’t take this on.


5. I appreciate your understanding that I have to make choices that are best for me, even if they’re different from what you’d prefer. 


In the Workplace:

Here are some suggestions for different situations:

1. "With everything on my plate right now, I wouldn’t have the bandwidth to take this on and keep up the level of quality that I like to produce. Can we meet next week to see if you want to discuss or adjust the priorities?"


2. “I won’t be able to stay late today as I have prior commitments. But, I can help you first thing in the morning.” This sets a boundary regarding your personal time while offering an alternative solution.


3. “I’m not comfortable taking on this task as it falls outside my area of expertise. Let’s loop in someone with the right skill set for this job.” Politely declining by pointing out the need for appropriate expertise makes sure that the task is handled properly.


4.“I’m excited about this collaboration, but I have to make sure I have enough time for my core areas. Let’s find someone else who has the bandwidth to help.” You’re showing that you value teamwork while also being realistic about your time constraints.


How to Deal with Guilt

Saying no is a new skill, and it's like a muscle that gets stronger with time. If you feel guilty, then

1.    Remind yourself of the reasons you said no. You protecting your time, energy, or emotional health. That’s a good reason.


2.    Practice Self-Compassion: Treat yourself with kindness and understand that it’s OK, even necessary, to prioritize your needs. 


3. Let Go of Trying to control how others react: Your job is to communicate clearly and kindlyYou're NOT RESPONSIBLE for other people's happiness. Only they can address that, if they choose.


4.Align with Your Values: You know what is right for you, and what will help you thrive. Don’t compromise your values for someone else’s comfort – that’s a high price to pay.


5. Give Yourself Permission: It’s okay to say no. Give yourself permission to make decisions that are best for you, even if others don’t agree. At the end of the day, what you are doing is healthy and important, and the only permission you need is your own.


Saying no  and setting boundaries is one of the most important skills a person can develop. It gets easier with time, and will allow you to welcome in alignment, emotional freedom and joy. You got this :)



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