What ends up happening, though, is we’re spread too thin, we feel resentful or we’re stuck in a situation we don’t want to be in. One of the most detrimental things that happens when you can’t say no—and this knowledge can help free up any guilt you have about saying no—is that it takes away opportunities to say yes to things that really matter to you.
But how do you move past your fear of saying no?
For one, you have to have a strategy. After you’ve gained some practice and momentum, you’ll find the anxiety or apprehension you feel about saying no will dissipate.
- Say no—not “maybe,” or “um, I don’t think I can” or “not right now.” Simply: “No.”
- If that feels rude to you, try, “Thanks for thinking of me; however, I have too much going on right now!” OR “No, thanks, though!”
- Try saying “I don’t,” instead of “I can’t.” For example, if you don’t want to go out with friends on a Tuesday because it messes up your work schedule, say, “I don’t go out during the week. Thanks, though!”
- Don’t elaborate unnecessarily—over justification can come across as untruthful or open the door to the asker getting a “yes” anyway.
- Which leads to the next one… don’t lie! It’ll exponentially increase your guilt. Tell the truth and move on.
- Remind yourself what you’ll miss out on if you say yes. Time? Money? Sanity? Health? Learn to put yourself first.
- Whatever your response, give it as soon as possible. Once you’ve shared your answer, you’ll feel better and able to move on.
Practice the above by writing down some ways you’d be comfortable saying no to requests you can’t or don’t wish to fulfill. Not into writing? Record voice memos or a video on your phone, or practice in the mirror.