“We must say “no” to what, in our heart, we don’t want. We must say “no” to doing things out of obligation, thereby cheating those important to us of the purest expression of our love. We must say “no” to treating ourselves, our health, our needs as not as important as someone else’s. We must say “no.”
― Suzette R. Hinton, author of The Sound Of My Life.
As a practising hypnotherapist, I often see a lot of misery and struggle, conflict and self-doubt. And quite often the people who come to see me give little priority to themselves, and like I was once, they can be people pleasers, self-effacing and overburdened with care for others in their life.
Such a person is so busy running around after other people, they have no time for their own needs and desires. And they will rarely complain. They bottle up their frustration and that’s dangerous to their physical and mental health.
Stress will come out some way or other. If it doesn’t come out with yelling and demanding attention, it just manifests in a different direction: typically a disease, such as blood pressure, heart attack, or the dreaded cancer. Or in anxiety and depression
A little known study carried out some years ago looked at this issue and found that it was mostly women who had greatest trouble saying “No”. Even if what was demanded was something they didn’t like, even hated, they would comply anyway.
But this is an act of injury against the self. It may be justified as duty or “helping others” but it is still an injurious willingness to ignore the self and its needs.
Saying NO reduces stress considerably!
The researchers took a group of typical people pleasing personality cases and had research participants practice saying “No!” to things they didn’t like, and sticking to it. The results of this intervention were startling. The women who said NO (and meant it) lived many years longer, on average, than those who could not bring themselves to do it.
So for some people, saying “No” is a good start in creating a new and satisfying life. Are you a people pleaser? Do you have little time for yourself and your own needs?
Time to change. And make no mistake, you need to change, otherwise you may die before your time.
Don’t let fear of rejection rule your choices. Some women are afraid that saying NO would lead to rejection; that every time she says NO, she would disappoint someone, make them angry, hurt their feelings, or appear unkind or rude.
But this is really letting other people’s opinion of you rule your own choices. Not good!
You need to know that the world won’t end if you say NO and someone gets mad at you.
“Men are expected to assert themselves and speak their mind; that’s what gives them status in our society,” says social psychologist Susan Newman, author of The Book of No. “They learn to say ‘no’ early on because if they don’t, they’re labeled wimps.”
Here’s a simple hack anybody can do. Take a sheet of paper or an index card and write on it I GIVE MYSELF PERMISSION TO SAY NO TO: in big letters. Then start writing all the things that you need to start saying NO to.
Tasks you don’t like; routines that are not shared equally with others; things you find demeaning; things that are not really part of your inner world (football maybe, cars, beer swilling, TV programs, having the neighbors round for dinner, lewd topics or gossiping about others). It’s your list, you choose!
And that’s the key. You are choosing. You can even say YES once in a while. Providing you can say NO and stick to it, then saying YES is not nearly so hurtful. You have a choice.
When you can’t say NO, you’ve lost that power of choice. Do you see the difference?
If you can say NO, then saying YES is an act of love. You do it for the right reasons.
If you want to engage the others in your life in this exercise, and I think you should, then stick your list on the fridge door and make family members read it and acknowledge the new you! But you must stick to it! Being yelled at may not kill you. But as I’ve explained, saying YES when you don’t want to could do just that. In fact yelling back has some power of healing. You are standing up for yourself. You can stand your ground courageously.
The person who love you shouldn’t mind you taking a stand
Chantalle Blikman (tinybuddha.com) gives several helpful tips for saying No:
- Be direct, such as “No, I can’t” or “No, I don’t want to.”
- Don’t apologize and give all sorts of reasons.
- Don’t lie. Lying will most likely lead to guilt—and remember, this is what you are trying to avoid feeling.
- Remember that it is better to say NO now than be resentful later.
- Be polite, such as “Thank you for asking.”
- Practice saying NO. Imagine a scenario and then practice saying no either by yourself or with a friend. This will get you feeling a lot more comfortable with saying no.
- Don’t say “I’ll think about it” if you don’t want to do it. This will just prolong the situation and make you feel even more stressed.
Remember that your self-worth does not depend on how much you do for other people. If you don’t stand up for yourself you’ll just feel weak and/or guilty. And you are worth more than that. This is about self love, caring for yourself by setting boundaries. And being strong enough to respect those boundaries and encouraging others to respect you and your boundaries too xx