How to say No, plus 6 expertly approved ways to stop admitting it

It’s a two-letter, one-syllable word, but speaking it comes with a lot of baggage. Of course, the word in question is “no” and I can guarantee that I was not the only one who seemed unable to speak. For women in particular, there is no shortage of hassles in refusing our request for a helping hand. That’s why this year, I’ve committed to learning how to say no – firmly, proudly, persuasively – and it comes first above all else.

So why do we fall into this trap? If you’re like me (and really, everyone else on this planet), you know it can feel sooo It’s good to bask in appreciative glances when you ask to babysit a friend of a friend. And don’t make me start with a feeling of satisfaction when you give enthusiastically Yes! in response to being asked to undertake (more) working project. While help is easy to offer, it can quickly lead to you getting overwhelmed by the many commitments you’ve piled up at the top of your already long to-do list.

Featured image of Teal Thomsen.

Photo of Belathee Photography

To get the most important answers, I connected with Michaela Bucchianeri, a clinical psychologist and anxiety coach committed to helping individuals reach their healthiest levels and lead a more authentic life. Below, Bucchianeri analyzes why we tend to overestimate, the signs that we should turn down an offer or opportunity, and six actionable ways to really say it. are not—And that means it.

Wish to say Yes! Every time Something is Asked of Us is real and powerful. Why?

I’ve alluded to the usual suspects above — and the reasoning behind them — but it still has to be repeated. We can feel almost undeniably a visceral attraction to jump in when anything comes up. And the first step in learning how to connect with our truth and say no is, of course, understanding why we’re giving our time and effort in the first place.

“The smile, the sigh of relief and the instant thank you we receive when we say ‘yes’ to a request are strong signals that we did the right thing. Whether we realize it or not, most of us are strongly motivated by this.”

However, she’s quick to note that other factors may be contributing. It could be your background, family structure, or something in your past that prompts you to seek validation from others. “Certain life experiences may have trained us to put the needs of others above our own in order to maintain harmony, security or even safety in our environment,” she says. we.

Photo of Michelle Nash

Why might this phenomenon affect women more than men?

Don’t get me wrong, I know full well that overdependence is a universal trend regardless of gender, but women have been conditioned and socialized to believe that lovely is our most important, valuable trait. As a result, we often prioritize the needs of others over our own.

“When a woman behaves in ways that are consistent with our common understanding of ‘pleasure,’” she is often rewarded with positive feedback, which reinforces the trend, says Bucchianeri. this direction over time”.

What are the signs that we should say no?

I have long believed that the answer we are looking for can be found within ourselves — and Bucchianeri agrees. “We can learn a lot from observing patterns in our own behavior. For example, our emotional responses can provide valuable information.”

She imparts a bit of sage wisdom: Pause before you commit. “Don’t judge yourself; just curious: Did you notice the anger? Overwhelmed? Sadness? These can be strong signs that our actions are not in line with our values. “

“If you find that you’re getting frustrated when you agree to certain commitments, it might be worth renegotiating your boundaries.”

Photo of Michelle Nash

How can we decide to refuse?

As with many things in life, it all comes down to boundaries. By looking at stocks and what Bucchianeri calls, an “honest assessment” of your boundaries, you can gain insights into what you have the space and time to commit to. “Take some time to reflect on your values ​​and prioritize relationships and activities that support your goals. before The requests started coming in. “

From there, our old, mindful standby comes into play. Instead of rushing to say “yes,” says Bucchianeri, “pause and check in with yourself to determine how you’re feeling. What do you notice in your body? This can be useful data to help guide our decision-making.”

Photo of Belathee Photography

How can we deal with the guilt that may arise when we say no?

First of all, guilt is completely normal! It can be uncomfortable to practice new ways of life. “Habit formation takes time,” says Bucchianeri. Before anything else, she encourages you to practice patience with yourself. “Try to focus on what prompted you to change your behavior in the first place. Remember: You will get there. “

What are the ways we can say no to express our needs with compassion?

“Depending on the circumstances (e.g. what you’re asking, who’s asking), you can adjust your ‘no’ accordingly.” Below, Bucchianeri offers a few options to apply to reality.

  • Thanks for thinking of me, but I can’t right now.
  • Unfortunately, I have to get through this time.
  • I’m afraid I can’t afford to appear in full for this.
  • I have been acknowledged for now, but please ask me again next time [time, month, year].
  • I don’t think I’m the right person for this, but _______ might be interested.
  • I can’t help with this, but instead, I’m happy to __________.

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