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Sometimes saying "no" is self-care!




Are you a people pleaser that hates letting people down?

Does the prospect of saying “no” to an opportunity, fill you with dread?

That was definitely me for a long time too. I guess feeling like a fraud meant that I genuinely believed if I turned down tasks it might shatter the illusion that I had everything under control. I was wrong.

What if we started taking on board what Jen Hatmaker says: “if it’s not a ‘HELL YES’, then it’s a no!”

It is easy to feel the pressure to accept every offer and help everyone else out. The reality is that time is precious, as is your energy. As much as you may see self-development challenges that talk about ‘saying yes to everything for a week’, in the long run, it can leave us feeling burned out. As clichéd as it may be, we really cannot pour from an empty cup.

So, what can we do about this?

1. Re-frame the circumstances of saying no. Quite often, that negative critic in our head can create a whole scenario about what the other person will think when we say no. That story often has no basis and is complete fiction. In turn, this story means we experience negative emotions, with little input from the other party. What if saying no actually strengthened the power of when you say “yes”? What if it opened time in your diary to do things that are more beneficial for your mental health in the long run? Empower yourself to know this “no” is not to let people down, but to prioritise yourself and ensure you can continue to provide good work in the tasks that you are doing. Keep focussing on this positive story.

2. With that in mind, remember your value. You are important. Your time matters. Sometimes you need to prioritise your own self-care, sanity, sleep, and relaxation time.

3. Ask for time to think. Often we react, feeling powerless, and saying “yes” to tasks seems to fall out of our mouths before we have a moment to consider. Get used to pausing, the other party should respect that you need time to assess whether you want to, need to or can do what is being asked.

4. Give yourself a chance to consider the opportunity logically and rationally. Look at the positive aspects if you do or don’t take it, and the negative if you do or don’t take it too. Speak to a trusted friend or family member, gather information from trusted sources rather than ruminating. How much time will it take? Is that time available? Could this lead to more opportunities? Is this a task that gives you energy, or drains it?

5. If you find saying no difficult, come up with a strategy or framework. Sometimes it helps to start with something positive, for example, “thank you so much for asking”, and then giving a shorter answer such as “I’m just fully booked up at the moment” or “I don’t have capacity for further work”.

6. Consider setting boundaries to help making the decision easier. Reflect previously on situations where you have taken on too much. Is it that four shifts per week is your limit? Do you always keep the weekend evenings free? Will you only have four writing projects at once? Consider what works best for you.

How might this help you this week?

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