When we continually say yes to other peoples requests we are like a house that has left its door unlocked. It invites intruders in to our lives to lay even more demands on us. In learning to say no to the burglars of both our time and energy they may continue to try and intrude but they will soon realise a new alarm system has been installed and leave to find someone else who has left their house vulnerable.

 

Essentially, when we say yes to others we also say no to ourselves. Every yes requires time and energy which could otherwise be spent on our objectives, goals and dreams. The next time someone approaches you with a request, take a few moments to realistically assess if you have both the time and energy to fulfil what they are asking of you. In honestly answering these two fundamental questions, you will know when it is wise to say no. When you say no you may think you are being selfish however by saying no you are simply practising self-care and learning to value yourself and your time.

 

Of course saying the word no can seem to many of us as abrupt and harsh, but there are many ways to soften the blow if we feel uncomfortable.

 

When saying no we can start by saying we are complimented that the person has approached us however at this time we regret that we won’t be able to assist. We could even give a picture of the demands we are facing to help the other person better understand our situation. For example ‘I really appreciate you have asked me to help you with Sunday school and I am honoured that you thought of me. It is definitely a worthwhile and meaningful cause however at the moment the demands on my time from both my work and my family mean I won’t be able to assist. Thank you so much for asking me though I am very complimented’. In truth you are well within your rights to say no without any explanation whatsoever, however, if you do decide to offer one, avoid going into too much detail as this sends the message you need a detailed reason to justify saying no. Whatever the request, it is also important to refrain from apologising as this communicates you are in the wrong to say no when, in fact, you are well within your rights.

 

Next week we will look at developing this new skill and how to keep your motivation high when tackling saying no.

 

Do you struggle to say no? What reasoning leads to you saying yes when you are already overloaded? Can you relate to the unlocked house analogy?  When you have to say no what works for you? Have you ever apologised when saying no before? Please comment and share your experiences with our community to gain insight, encouragement and support.

 

Exercises:

 

  1. Every time someone asks something of you, ask two questions: Do I have the time? 
  2. Do I have the energy to fulfil what they are asking of me?