How often do you find yourself thinking, “I really need to stop saying yes to everything!”
This is a common thing experienced by so, so many - myself included! We’re going to talk a bit more about boundaries in the next blog, so today I want to look more specifically at saying no in general and the good, bad, and all the in between that comes with it.
First, it is incredibly important to understand your WHY. With any behavioral change, the key to sticking with the change is by looking underneath it all to figure out the direct source of that behavior. WHY do I always say yes? WHY is it so uncomfortable for me to say no? Once discovering this answer, you now have important information that will help you develop new meaning, build acceptance for hard feelings, build healthier connections with yourself and others, and meet your needs in more effective ways.
Why do you believe you say yes so much? Do you or others around you have poor boundaries? Perhaps you are a really selfless person and want others around you to be happy and satisfied. Maybe you like being really busy or having a packed schedule and that helps you feel accomplished or productive. Do you put yourself or your needs last compared to those of friends, loved ones, children, etc? Doing this exploration can shed some light on your own attachment style as well and how this may impact your ability to set limits with others or cause you to experience more insecure or unsettling feelings in doing so. We are going to talk about attachment styles more specifically in a future blog, but I encourage you to research a bit more on them in the meantime! Whatever your reasoning is, there is no shame in letting it come to the surface in order to assist you in your journey to saying a bit more no and a lot less yes.
There is so much good that comes from saying no. A proud, confident, necessary no can fill you with a sense of relief on its own. Setting limits or allowing yourself to distance yourself from plans, unfulfilling commitments or relationships, extra tasks, or unrealistic expectations will allow you space to put your energy in places that need a bit more love and attention. Or, quite simply, allow you mental space and energy to fill your own cup and practice a bit more self love.
A big impact of saying no is recognizing that your needs matter. Your alone time matters. Your ability to soothe, pause, reflect, and let go of pressure to show up constantly matters. You are a human being with needs, feelings, thoughts, values, and desires. Regardless of the responsibilities or dependent others in your life, you must understand that unapologetically saying no can actually benefit you in these areas, even if it doesn’t seem that way on the surface. If you are putting time and effort into yourself, you will be much more equipped to be your best self in the relationships and areas of priority you have in your life.
We are going to get into the cons in a moment, but before that I want to talk about how saying no can help you build a tolerance and acceptance that other people’s poor responses, negative feelings, and resulting behaviors have nothing to do with you. You will slowly build evidence that shows you that the world will keep turning and life will go on when you give yourself permission to let go and say no, even for a moment. Once this evidence is recognized and taken seriously by you, you then have the fuel to build a more solidified and readily able to identify times where it is necessary and appropriate for you to say no.
Boundaries and saying no can impact relationships, especially those that haven’t functioned in an effective way in regards to being aware of and respecting boundaries previously. Like I mentioned, people in your life may have a negative response to you saying no more or holding back from plans or simply communicating in different way (ie. less social media time, more time between phone calls/answering texts). Maybe they think your relationship has changed in some way, a conflict is happening, something is wrong or must be happening in your life that they’re feeling confused you haven't mentioned, etc. All of these are assumptions that stem from a place of love and care in the relationship, which is a good thing. No one is to blame here, however, because new patterns need time to be adjusted to and intentions must be understood in the meantime. Once you clarify your intentions have nothing to do with the relationship, and more about your own need for time away or self care, this can help release any bad feelings and help you build a new pattern together. Don’t leave people in the dark, it will only help the new habits form quicker! Plus, the more people in the know of your goal of putting yourself first and saying a bit more yes to things you need, can help a sense of accountability form where others can remind you that your time and needs are important. Particularly on days where you don’t believe it and need a push!
That being said, this leads me to my next con of when people in your life continue to avoid appropriate boundaries or continually have a poor response to you saying no, despite you explaining or clarifying your intentions for doing so. This is a tough pill to swallow, however this experience may open your eyes to people or commitments in your life that no longer fuel you, rather- they drain your energy more than add to it.
This experience of newfound control, assertiveness, and pulling back from things is going to be uncomfortable. No one enjoys this discomfort, however working through the thick of it will absolutely feel worth it on the other side when you’re saying more yes to experiences and relationships that you want to, and a lot more no to things that you can let go of or that add more negativity to your life and dim your light. Shine bright and say YES to you, baby!