Do You Know Your “No?”

“Live your daily life in a way that you never lose yourself.  When you are carried away with your worries, fears, cravings, anger, and desire, you run away from yourself and you lose yourself. The practice is always to go back to oneself.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

Image courtesy of David Zinger

Learning to Say “No” – It May Be Easier Than You Think
by Sandra Pawula

When someone asks you for time, pause. Tune into the alarms that are telling you the truth:

  • Your stomach tightening
  • Feeling annoyed
  • A flattening of joy
  • A pulling back
  • A forced smile
  • A voice in your head that wants to respond, “Are you out of your mind?”

Practice new scripts so you can say no with grace.

  • “Thank you for asking, I would be happy to help. I charge XYZ. Are you ready to start?”
  • “I’m honored you asked, but I won’t be able to help right now.”
  • “Let me think about it. I’ll get back to you tomorrow.”

Avoid saying “yes” right off the bat. Take your time and examine the pros and the cons. Ask yourself seriously if the new task fits comfortably in the agenda of your life. If it’s hard to say “no” in person or on the phone, then send an email or letter instead.

If you still want to give, remember you don’t have to give it all. You really can give an hour instead of a whole day. You can offer one idea instead of preparing a full essay. So consider how you can give in a balanced and workable way. Determine your limits and state them in a clear and confident voice. Others will be grateful when you mark a straight line.

When I practiced saying “no”, I discovered it was easier than I ever thought. “Hey, I can do this! I’ve done it once!” The slogan “Just Do It” applies like a charm. I was then encouraged to go on a 30-day fast from saying “yes” to others instead of myself.

You’ll find most people aren’t bothered. They will adjust. They’ll sort out the problem all by themselves or find another friend who can assist. Often, “indispensability” is just a phantom we’ve conjured up in our own head. In reality, life carries on just fine without us.

Understand Your True Purpose

Knowing your true purpose is the the best way to stay on track.

  • “What is my personal mission?”
  • “Why am I in this life?”
  • “Is it to give endless favors or to accomplish a larger goal?”

These are the questions next in line to ask. They will take you one step further to saying a full “yes” to yourself.

Design each day with your mission at the top of the list. By staying true to your ultimate purpose, you will accomplish the greatest good and serve others in a far more effective and intentional way.

Ready to Say “Yes” to You?

Getting to “yes” is a journey, there’s no miracle pill. Chances are your adrenalin will pump the first few instances you reclaim your time. But the sense of liberation will also bring you great joy. So just keep moving forward whatever tests come your way. It will get easier and easier as each victory seeds the next.

No matter how long you’ve been over-giving, you can bring it to a stop. If I can do it after eons of relentless giving, I know you can too.

Sandra Pawula is a freelance editor, writer, and inner explorer. She shares simple wisdom for a happy life at Always Well Within.

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