I have a long history of being a gold medal people pleaser. I’m getting better at it, but for many long years I basically said yes to every favour, every request and every invitation. I did this, sometimes happily, occasionally under duress until I had a profound realisation. Every time I said ‘yes’ to something that was not important to me, I was saying “no” to something that is.
If you can relate to this, you may be having some trouble using the word NO.
Such a wee, little word that for many of us, is so problematic. This can play out in so many different ways. Saying yes to another night out because FOMO has taken over even though you’re secretly desperate for a night in, curled up in front of Netflix. Saying yes to working back even though you’ve already made plans. Saying yes to a difficult client because they’re hard to say no to. The list goes on.
Constantly saying yes to the needs of others can often mean no time left to attend to your own. Your personal goals and self-care gets put on the back burner and then resentment starts to kick in.
From a coaching perspective it’s essential to look closely at your mindset around not being able to say no. Here are some reasons why saying YES might have become your default position:
-Your self-worth is linked to how much you do for others.
-You can’t bear the thought of disappointing someone.
-You fear that saying no will make others angry and that you’ll be rejected.
-You feel guilty saying no.
-You fear people won’t like or include you if you say no.
-Everyone around you says ‘yes’, so you feel you should too.
-You have control issues and problems delegating (it’s easier for me to do this, XXX can’t do it the way it should be done etc)
-You have serious FOMO and feel like saying no will isolate you.
-You’ve fallen into the trap of ‘should’ thinking – I ‘should’ say yes, I ‘should’ do this and I ‘should’ do that.
Before you hit the yes auto-pilot next time take a moment to get some clarity around these important things:
1.What are your current priorities and does what you’re being asked to do fit in with them?
2.Have you set clear boundaries?
3.What is your gut telling you? Go with it (your gut almost never lies)
When you’re next asked to help, volunteer or take on extra work (especially of the underpaid / unpaid variety), consider these things:
1.What does this commitment mean in terms of your time and energy?
2.Are you saying yes because you really mean it / want to?
3.Will saying yes have a negative impact on your own current personal goals or your stress levels and health?
Once you’re aware of what’s driving the yeah, yeah, yeah train, consider changing your mindset around saying no.
Take your time before saying yes instantly. Think through the consequences. If it’s a partial yes, be clear with what you’re able to offer time wise and stick with it.
Don’t feel you need to be an apologist and provide long and detailed explanations. Be direct and take emotion out of the equation. An un-emotive no is much easier to deliver. Remember you’re saying NO to the request, not the person who asked!
Being clear on your priorities and your values will help. If service to others is high on your values list, then saying YES might be right for you. If you have pressing priorities in your life right now and you know that saying yes will tip you over the edge, then the choice is more straightforward.
Offer an alternative or don’t. Saying no can often give the person you’re saying no to an opportunity to figure out the best solution for themselves.
Sometimes saying yes to others can mean NOT saying yes to the things we really want to do.
Thanks for reading. Feel free to share me!
Coach Viv xo
Viv Fantin is an accredited coach who works with creative people who are ready to make change in their life. She loves chai, the ocean and sitting in a dark cinema on a hot day. For more info go to www.nextactcoaching.com.au