Excercising “No”

2012 January 23
by Grace Boyle

I know, it seems negative but this year, I am learning to say no.

I almost always say yes. It is excruciatingly hard for me to say no, moreso in personal relationships and requests, not so much business. My mom or boyfriend would joke, I’m great at saying no :) but that’s not the kind of opinionated no I’m talking about.

It’s when feelings are involved, it’s requests, favors and let me make your inconvenience mine (at a high level of repetition).

A true no doesn’t include making up an excuse or if I actually have an obligation, so I have to say no.

When I don’t have the capacity, I don’t want to, I can’t or I just am not up to it – those are true no’s.

I pride myself on giving and being helpful. I want that to be part of my life, forever. However, I resent the fact that I begin resenting situations or people, when their asking becomes an assumption, not a request. When their asking becomes so regular, you don’t remember not being asked. I feel drained if it’s take, take, take and I find sometimes, that what I begin giving back isn’t wholehearted or out of the goodness of my heart.

I still will say yes more than no.

I know that.

But I also know that I will feel empowered by speaking my truth and by just saying no, when I simply cannot.

I am scared because in general, we, as humans, don’t react well to no. More often than not, we request something from someone expecting them to give it, just assuming the no won’t be there.

It’s true.

I also recognize, that people come to expect me as the “Yes, whatever you need,” type-of-gal. I will still be reliable. If I say “No, I don’t think I can this time,” once every six months to someone that’s still reliable. There are just circumstances that don’t always align and the notion of asking, is that you are truly asking with a chance they may not be able to and it has nothing to do personally with you.

Those are my fears. Loud and clear.

More and more I find the need to exercise the no in my life. I barely have 30 minutes truly to myself these days and I find, with time to give back where and when I truly can and want to, it will be better for everyone.

Here’s to the no, opening up your life and allowing you to give back in the most honest way.

How do you say no in your life?

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  • http://cookingwithmichele.com/ Cooking with michele

    Learning to say no is not a warning sign for lack of compassion, but rather an indicator of maturity. We can all only do so much and we’ll do what we need and want to do so much better if we are not overextended. BTW, these phrases work great: “I so wish I could, but…”, “perhaps another time”, “it sounds like such a great cause, but…”, “thanks for thinking of me to help, but…”

  • Jacqueline Soboti

    loving this post!  time to create more space in your life for the things you truly want to do! love you!

  • http://twitter.com/BryanWeller Bryan Weller

    The thing is that you do so much more for the world by being able to give your all to the few projects you can help with than by giving an iffy effort to everyone who comes along asking. You’re doing the right thing by ensuring the people who get you, get the very best you possible.

  • http://www.smallhandsbigideas.com Grace Boyle

    Those phrases are great. I’ll keep them in my back pocket :) Thanks Michele!

  • http://www.smallhandsbigideas.com Grace Boyle

    Thanks for all your support too! Its been nagging at me to share this and its been nagging at me to be more honest with my capacity to do, give, etc. xoxo

  • http://www.smallhandsbigideas.com Grace Boyle

    Thanks Bryan! Wonderfully put. Means a lot. Thanks for stopping by.

  • http://parisianfeline.wordpress.com/ tatiana

    My friend is like this; someone who is very sweet but gets taken advantage of because she doesn’t say “no” a lot to people’s requests. I think it’s an interesting problem because I think most people want to be helpful, even to their own detriment. There also seems to be some social policing around the concept of no, and that it’s “rude” to reject offers and things from people – even if you don’t legitimately want them.

    I don’t really get the chance to say no to requests – people don’t ask me for things – but I do have a hard time saying no to family who think they know what’s best for me and won’t give me the space to do what I think is best for myself. Which is an ultimate kind of frustration, and I think can be the hardest to overcome (at least for me anyway). I’ve also found it difficult to say no, when it felt like I was being too uncompromising but when I really didn’t want something or didn’t want to do something with that particular person. Or if my saying no meant me coming off as irrational.

    And I think the concept of no can be worsened in different cultural situations when it’s polite to say yes to most offers (particularly if you’re a guest) even if you don’t want it.

  • http://www.gettingtozen.com/ Lisa H.

    Saying no can be difficult; especially when we want people to think we are “nice”; however, the truth is that it has nothing to do with our being nice, it is just a matter of whether or not we have the time, energy, finances or interest in meeting the requesters need. The way I see it is that when you say “no” to someone else, you are saying “yes” to you. :-)

  • http://www.smallhandsbigideas.com Grace Boyle

    Well put Lisa! Thanks for sharing :)

  • http://www.smallhandsbigideas.com Grace Boyle

    I have a strong backbone and speak up, a lot. So I find it interesting that this piece of saying no is hard for me. I’m asked everyday by someone to do something and I feel blessed to have those people in my life, I just find it difficult because these are people I love that are asking for help.

    You’re right about all your points and there are different ways to say and/or accept the no in your life. There are cultural barriers which is why people are all encouraging saying “you should say no more,” but our culture doesn’t tout saying no. Like your example, when you’re a guest it’s polite to say yes and do as they need even against what we can or cannot do.

    I already feel better by just putting this out there. I think it’s a sign of maturity, not a sign of mean-hardheartedness to be able to articulate what you can and cannot do.

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