If you’re anything like me, you have a hard time telling people “no” when they ask you for something. You just want to try and help everyone and do everything for yourself.
The problem is, you can’t do everything. Yes, you heard it here first and from someone who has come to that realization the hard way.
Learning how to say “no” is one of the most important lessons in life you can ever learn (I’d even say it’s up there with getting potty-trained). You shouldn’t say “no” just for the sense of self-pride either, but for a lot deeper reasons.
And in the next few minutes, I want to share those reasons with you.
Image by Kevin Trotman
Why You’re Hurting Yourself
First off, you should know how removing “no” from your vocabulary can hurt you.
When you start promising things to people and saying you’re going to do something for them, it puts pressure on you. Maybe at first, it’s manageable. But over time, the less and less you tell people “no,” the more pressure you are building onto yourself.
Now that you have all of these things you need to do for others, you are short on time and high on stress. You’ll quickly find out that you can’t manage all of these things for others and still do all the things you want to.
And I think that’s the most hurtful thing — you’re creating less time for you. You’re more important than anybody else, and when you can’t even find time for yourself: that’s when you know you need to make some changes.
Why We Have a Hard Time Saying “No”
There are plenty of reasons why many of us can say it, and why so many of us can’t. Some of us feel too pressured, and don’t want to let others down. Some of us even like to help people! Why does it have to be so hard?
But the main reason, I believe, that we have a hard time saying “no” — is because of psychology.
An article on Psychology Today says:
According to North Carolina researchers, you over commit because you expect to have more time in the future than you do in the present. But then tomorrow becomes today and… yesterday’s “yes” becomes today’s “damn!” And you find yourself making excuses.
The research shows that we think we have more time than we really do, and that’s why it’s so easy for us to feel like we can do more. It’s just one of time’s many effects on the brain, and it can be difficult to train yourself to think otherwise.
But not impossible.
How to Start Saying “No” Today
Now that you know how you’re hurting yourself and why you weren’t saying this word before, it’s time to figure out how to say “no.”
And trust me, there’s more to it than just telling someone “no” every time they ask you for something.
1. Know What You Have To Do
When I write posts about staying as focused as possible, I really mean: stay as focused as possible!
Keeping to-do lists and daily planners aren’t just for keeping your organized. It’s to give you some perspective on how your time is going to be spent for the day.
If you always have an idea (even a broad one) of what you’re going to do for the day, then you will start to understand that there’s just no way you can commit to anything else.
From the same article on Psychology Today:
“People often make commitments long in advance that they would never make if the same commitments required immediate action,” say the researchers. “That is, they discount future time investments relatively steeply.”
The better you can evaluate your time and watch your thoughts, the better you can plan ahead and never make a commitment you can’t keep with ever again.
2. Don’t Get Pressured
Some people are more persuasive than others, and you have to make it clear that if you don’t believe you can handle something, that you can’t do it. There’s nothing wrong with not being able to do something, you’re not some kind of superhuman (at least not that I know of).
And you have to realize that saying “no” to people does not give off the vibe that you’re a selfish person. Being able to say “no” to something tells me:
- You have self-respect for yourself
- Your priorities are straight
- You have other things to do, and that’s fine
People will not hate you for telling them “no.” They won’t be mad at you (and if they are, I’d stop talking to that person for a while). So don’t ever get pressured into someone else’s business they can’t handle.
3. Always Be Confident And In Control
The less confident you are in a situation, the easier it is to get pressured (see: point #2) and basically let everyone walk all over you. The more confidence you can gain in yourself, the better handle you’ll have in any situation.
Do You Have This Problem?
I know there are others like me out there who try to do more than they should. How about you? Was there a time you can remember agreeing to something you didn’t believe you can handle at the time? How did you learn from that experience? See you in the comments!
PS: You should check out that article I mentioned from Psychology Today. It’s really a fascinating read.