Why do we need to say this small word more? Channel 10's mind & body expert and clinical psychologist, Leanne Hall, discusses freeing up your time and energy for the important things in life.
It’s one of the smallest words in the dictionary yet it packs a pretty big punch.
It’s a word we use freely as an uninhibited toddler expressing our independence, yet as an adult, it often loses its value. The word itself is powerful and necessary in life. Here’s why learning to say no is important for all of us.
Saying “no” is often associated with being “negative”, a downer and/or a killjoy. This is in part due to the fact that it is often misunderstood. It’s also often misinterpreted as an act of selfishness, and putting your own needs ahead of anything and anyone else.
However, while negativity is more of a pervasive attitude, the word “no” asserts quite clearly to the world who you are, and where your boundaries lie.
The difference is quite clear. A selfish act dismisses the wishes and needs of others, while an assertive “no” on the other hand, makes your needs and wishes clear, but not at the expense of others. In other words, it’s entirely possible to say “no” while at the same time demonstrating empathy and understanding to those around you.
Are you a people pleaser?
It’s not nice to be on the receiving end of a flat “no”, and so our adult inhibitions mean that many of us try to avoid being confronted by another person’s distress and disappointment. So a “no” becomes “maybe”, “I’ll get back to you”.
These people pleasers derive their self-worth by making other people happy. And they are driven by an overwhelming desire to be liked. Their boundaries are often crossed without permission, as their needs and wants become secondary to the needs and wants of others. It’s extremely difficult to say “no” if you are a people pleaser!
However in doing so, people pleasers often end up perpetuating the very thing they try to avoid – by overcommitting, being dishonest about their limits and capabilities and therefore disappointing the very people they are trying to please!
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Embrace the power of NO!
Instead, embrace the power of saying “no”. Stay true to your values by practicing your assertive right to make your limits and boundaries clear to the people around you.
This doesn’t mean you are selfish and don’t care about the people you love. Quite the opposite. You are communicating to them openly and honestly, and helping them understand who you are and where your limits lie. In a way, you’re making their job easier!
Remember, integrity builds interpersonal trust. Read more thoughts for better living here.
Let’s be honest, some people just don’t like hearing “no”, no matter how it’s delivered. We cannot be responsible for how other people react. We are responsible for our own behaviour only. Saying “no” is an expression of this. It’s about asserting where you end and the other person begins. “No, I will not be responsible for your internal environment”.
Lets not forget that saying “no” also allows you to focus on what’s important to you. It frees up your time and energy, and keeps you on track with your goals. Because in a world where distractions are everywhere, this little powerful word can mean the difference between achievement and disappointment. And that’s why learning to say no is important.
So use it freely, and wisely. What’s that? Was that a “yes” I detect?
Interested in helping and inspiring others to lead more fulfilling lives, like Leanne? Research a career in Counselling here.