You hear the phone bell ringing in the background while you are cooking that special recipe you had been waiting to try out. It’s you husband’s work colleagues that are coming over for dinner for the first time so this cooking experiment has to be a success. In your head you are thinking what bad timing just when you don’t want to leave the pot of gravvy oozing and bubbling all set to dribble out the moment you stop stirring - you gotta attend to the damn phone! You bring the flame down and Wiping your hands off on the already stained apron you make a dash for the phone;
You hear the familiar voice of your best bud and she says in one breath :
“Hey how are you ? Was calling to check if you are home can I drop my kids off at your place for a couple of hours, you told me you took the day off from work today. Hey please don’t say No, I won’t have troubled you but my sitter ditched me last minute and I don’t want to pay the other one as she’s too expensive”
You stare at the mirror in front of you, seeing your image of a unruly hair, stained apron, a pool of sweat at the nape of your neck and you fumble for words -
“Ah, umm, okay I can but I have people coming over tonight and kids will be home in a few minutes..”
Before you finish she interjects:
“Oh I gotta go somewhere tonight and have to get my nails done, come on it’s just a matter of a few hours, you can manage!!! You can right !??”
And all you can think is - if I say “No” she will get upset, have known this one for so long!
So you say
“Yes it’s fine drop them off”
So ultimately what you ended up with is some over cooked gravvy for dinner, a messy house that was too difficult to bring order to, a bad mood and bad hair day topped with shabby attire - all because you didn’t have the time and basically no courage to say “No”
It’s not always easy to get out of such situations and we have to at times do things we don't want to do; that is part and parcel of life. But I have seen so many of us agree to do things they do not even have to do. And more often than not, these things are not small things- these are big ginormous unreasonable tasks;
For instance, people having to take promotions or jobs they don't want, marrying people out of pressure, and having children before they're ready.
The reality is, for so many of us, saying "no" is hard!
As humans, we all crave to be liked, accepted and appreciated due to our herd mentality or societal pressures to conform!
We want to be there for people because we fear that they may not help us when we need them, even if there is going to be no such occurrence in future. We like to let fear of being labelled take over us and make us do something that’s not just tough but also with everlasting repercussions.
When we say No to things we cannot do, we are relieving ourselves of unnecessary stress and focusing on our energies on the more important stuff. We actually have control over what we put into our brains and the information that has negative associations will be interpreted negatively. So let’s say i am thinking “Oh, why have i taken this responsibility when i could have easily refused” - i am actually telling myself that its difficult and I won't be able to do it.
Below are some of the ways in which we can make it easier for ourselves to politely refuse what we feel we are not entitled to do.
Buying time before you answer:
It is always better to take some time to ponder over the request and no need to answer right away. When you have a pressure to answer there and then, you don't get time to think and evaluate the situation. Buying time before you answer can help with assessing the request or proposition better and helps in getting to a more logical solution. Decision making is always easier when you have time to think.
Build up the Courage:
More often than not, we are scared of the results of our actions. We are scared of the implications of saying No. It takes only a few seconds to utter the word and you get instant relief that it's done. We contemplate so much that we make the task at hand look magnanimous and intimidating and then it gets harder and harder to say No. We make assumptions and reach conclusions in our heads when all it takes is just a little courage to man up to the situation. Face it boldly and do what is best versus coming under pressure.
Many times we think we can do something, when actually we cannot. This happens especially when mentally we are ready for something but physically we are not. When faced with a situation where you have to answer with a Yes or No, just do some reflection. See if your body allows it too even though your mind is telling you that you can.
For e.g. someone is asking you to fill in for them at a meeting/family gathering or for a school duty. While your mind says, “Oh, i think i can do this, it is just a matter of a few hours!” But deep inside you feel tired and lethargic, or your physical condition is not permitting you to undertake that responsibility. In such instances, it is best to say “NO”
Trust your Gut:
Our gut-feeling is the most accurate barometer for making decisions. It gives us silent cues on what action we should be taking. When the mind is boggled, the first and foremost thing to do is listen to your inner-voice or your gut-feeling. Intuition is a gift to human race and we can use it in circumstances when the mind is unable to reach a decision. The ability to consciously know something without reasoning is what instinct is all about. Many times people have found themselves out of hot waters because they trusted their sixth sense or their gut-feeling and decided to do something against reason. Hence, listen to your gut and trust it when you are at cross-roads of a Yes and a No.
Prioritize on what’s more important:
If you have your priorities aligned in front of you, it’s very easy to say No. For instance, your co-worker asks you to leave beyond your work hours and take care of his/her pending work/task. You assess the situation and realize that you have to pick up your son from the daycare (and no other arrangements can be made)- what do you do?
Naturally, because your first priority is your children so it is easy to explain and refuse. Hence, prioritizing things, tasks, relationships helps in making a decision easier because it makes us differentiate between what we can or cannot do.
Do not feel guilty:
Many times saying No becomes a challenge as we realize that we will regret it later. We usually go on a guilt trip after a refusal, because we believe we denied someone their due share or their right or because we hold ourselves accountable for our actions (in this case saying NO)
If we stop feeling guilty and holding ourselves responsible for someone else’s work/duty or responsibility, we will be in a much better place mentally, physically and emotionally.
By shifting the locus of control outside of ourselves, we can put our minds and bodies at ease and live by the choice we make instead of punishing ourselves for it.
Better for our mental wellbeing…….
Never underestimate the power of No. You will realize how much of a difference it makes in your life and of those related to you.
Till next time adieus