Well, NO-vember is here!
I recall many years ago, I received a call to teach a weekly course (4 hours a week) on entrepreneurship and mentoring… for free.
The old me; “Of course I’ll do it.”
The new me, “No thank you. Not right now.”
I have always volunteered. I started volunteering when my community supported me when I started my first business, and have continued to give back ever since. I believe in giving back. I do. I help out whenever I can. For years, I mentored a group of individuals each month who were trying to collectively get a business off the ground. I left my kids at supper time and homework time to do this, because I believe in helping with time (and/or money) if you are able, and I also believe in sending the elevator back down. Besides being on the board of directors of my sons’ school for many years, I give my time to cancer causes, women in business causes, women’s shelters, and more. And I loved every minute of it, but becoming a human pretzel is just not where I’m at these days. And I know what happens when I start to say YES a little too much. I start to become short-tempered. I start to get easily annoyed. The sound of people’s chewing starts to send me into a tailspin, lol! We all know our breaking points, or at least we think we do. It’s that last thing we agree to take on, that makes us collapse like a house of cards.
So, years ago I decided my new motto is, “not right now.” And it’s a skill, I tell ya! It doesn’t feel great to say no. Our egos are attached to the yes, and so saying no, and letting go is difficult. It’s definitely a process I’ve gotten better at.
And when I say, “no thank you, for right now, it’s just not possible,” it doesn’t mean I won’t be interested in a couple of weeks, months, or next year. It means for today. And when I keep the door open, I feel good about that. As the quote goes, “SAYING NO TO SOMEONE ELSE, IS SAYING YES TO YOURSELF.” Just let that soak in. It’s really true. Saying no to someone else, means saying yes to yourself. It means freeing yourself up to do more of the things you love… read a book, go for a walk, take a painting class. Whatever joy means to you.
As working women, as single moms, as wives, as friends, we’re asked and pulled every day in a thousand directions. “Do you think you can do my carpool tomorrow?” or “Do you think you can stay late tonight at the office to get some extra filing done?” or “Do you think you can just drop off my dry cleaning?” or “Can you pick the kids up at soccer practice today?” I’m not saying we all don’t have responsibilities we are unable to escape in our daily lives. All I’m saying is, if you feel like your plate is already full, now ain’t the time to pack more on to it. And saying no takes practice. Saying no to friends, no to partners, no to charities, no to someone asking you for a loan, no to a bothersome person, no to an incredible opportunity because now just may not be the ideal time for you.
HOW TO SAY NO
So, if you feel you’re becoming the human pretzel, a few tips (now I would like to reiterate, I am not saying you should be selfish and never help people out. However, it’s just that many of us are running around on empty because we’re saying yes to everyone).
Think back to a time when you were turned down or rejected yourself. We have all been turned down in our lives. Johnny couldn’t come to your son’s birthday party, you were denied a favor, someone didn’t reciprocate your crush, it’s a part of life. So, did you die from it? Of course you survived it! Don’t assume you’re going to inflict serious harm by saying no to someone. What’s your human pretzel threshold? Are you there yet?
- Learn to accept no from those you love as well. “No’s” are a part of everyone’s life. Take it all in stride. If you do, you’ll be more easily able to say no to others, which means YES to yourself.
- Don’t instinctively say yes. Think it out first. It’s okay to not answer on the spot. How about something like, “can I think it over and get back to you?” If anything, you sound mature, professional, and if it really ends up being no, the “no” will sound like a more well thought-out no. And may I also note, you don’t have to be rude when you say no either. You should say it politely, thank you very much!
- Saying no truly does come with confidence and self-esteem. The more confident you are in your abilities, the easier time you will have saying no to people. Sorry my friend, it’s just the truth.
- Practice the 24-hour rule. To start easily making decisions you feel good about, learn to give yourself some breathing room. Don’t feel like you have to make a decision right away. Obviously, there are some instances where we have to be quick on our toes and make fast decisions. But most of the time we can give ourselves at least 24 hours to make a decision. And often when we walk away from it for a day, the answer becomes clearer. When we surrender to the universe, it often shows up for us when we aren’t so fired up and IN IT.
- And finally, if you do say yes, and then you feel resentment or are complaining about it after the fact, it means you SHOULD HAVE SAID NO! So, say NO, and let it be a complete sentence
So, learn how to say no guilt free… except in sex… I say “go for it!”
What can you say NO to? I’d love to know below. What can you shed this month to make more room for what lights you up?