“No” is a complete sentence.
What do you think about that? Do you actually believe it? As a hard-core people pleaser, I thought it was total BS. I’ve had a difficult history with this tiny two-letter sentence. Every time I wanted to use it, I’d feel such a rush of guilt, pressure, and fear that I’d say ‘yes’ instead, just to avoid those feelings.
‘What if I upset the person I’m saying ‘no’ to?’
‘What if they don’t like me anymore? What if they think I’m inconsiderate, lazy, mean. Or what if they think that I don’t like them?!”
‘Is there any way that I could do this thing they’re asking me to do?’
I’d do anything to avoid saying ‘no,’ at the expense of my health, peace of mind, and even my relationship with the other person. Yes – even my relationships were at stake. Because, like any good people-pleaser, I was an expert at resentment. I would say ‘yes,’ to avoid saying ‘no,’ and then I would be so upset with myself that it would bleed into our relationship – I’d be upset with them by proxy.
As I became aware of the effects my unwillingness to say ‘no’ was having, there’s something that helped this lesson to sink in.
When you say “no” to one thing, you’re saying “yes” to something else.
When you say “yes” to one thing, you’re saying “no” to something else.
Ahh…now things started to get interesting! There are two sides to this coin – a relationship between what I choose to give my time and energy to and what I don’t.
I began to see that I was always saying ‘no’ to something! Just, sometimes I wasn’t aware of it. And you know what I think about awareness…it’s the first magic-key to everything we want.
Start with ‘Yes’
Saying ‘no’ is a bazillion times easier when you’re clear on what you’re saying ‘yes’ to instead. Know your top priorities. Identify your values or guiding principles.
If you’ve already identified that one of your core values is ‘family’, and you get a job request at the same time that your child has a special dance performance, it’s easier to know which to say ‘yes’ to (the dance performance!).
If your focus for the month is on improving your organizational systems for your business, and you come across a parenting conference that sparks your interest, you can check with your current priorities to know that the parenting conference can wait until next year. You’re saying ‘yes’ to sticking with your organizational focus.
Ask for Time
Jiu jitsu is one of my favorite sports. One of the reasons is because being good at it doesn’t rely on strength or size. Practitioners who excel are masters at using natural forces of gravity and leverage to assist their bodies in subduing their opponents.
Here’s a jiu jitsu move for learning to love ‘no’:
Ask for time to consider the request.
Practice these phrases:
“Let me think about it.”
“Let me check in with my priorities/needs/calendar.”
“I’ll get back to you.”
And don’t forget your love or kind regard for the person to whom you’re speaking! Put these phrases together with your genuine feelings, and you become a master at communicating your boundaries in a way that actually strengthens relationships.
“Thanks so much for the invitation! Let me check in with my priorities for that week and I’ll get back to you tomorrow. Does that sound ok?”
Here’s something you can do today to baby-step your way toward learning to love no:
Download the “Hell, YES!” Checklist, and use it to help you tune into your inner “YES.”
Comment below to share what you use it for and how it goes.
Grab your journal and reflect:
- What, in the last week, did you want to say ‘no’ to, but didn’t?
- When you think of that moment that you wanted to say ‘no’, what feelings and sensations were you having in your body?
- What did you actually want to say ‘yes’ to, in that situation?
- If you had a ‘do-over’, what would you rather have said?
Healthy Boundaries for Interpreters
Four resources to deepen your exploration with healthy boundaries:
- Register for Burnout Proof 101 – A live one-hour webinar workshop exploring boundaries, joy, energy and more. Sept 30th, 2020. 0.1 CEUs.
- Self-Care: Thriving in Times of Uncertainty – RID VIEWS Nov 2019 Self-Care column with tips for tending to the body, mind, and heart during stressful times.
- Brene Brown’s advice on how to set boundaries – article from Brene Brown on setting boundaries
- Boundaries with Brene Brown – YouTube interview with Brene Brown
We are all in this together, dear one, and we need your deepest inner knowing and wisdom engaged as we work to create this equitable new world. Take it one tiny baby-step at a time, and remember I’m here to support you!
Sending so much love today and every day.