I spent most of my life saying yes to everything anyone asked me to do or help with because deep down I feared that I would let them down if I said no. After all, why would they ask if they didn’t really need my help?
About 3 years ago, I started recognizing that people would come to me quite often asking for help and I always said yes, even if I had a magnificent amount of loathing for whatever it was they were asking for. But when I needed help and actually swallowed my pride enough to ask for that help, those same people were rarely there to help me. OUCH!.
That’s when I realized that everyone falls into one of two categories. Those who have no problem saying No and those who struggle with it daily. Guess which category is happier? Hint: it’s not the strugglers.
Well my friend, here are a few reasons why saying no is so dang hard.
You’re a people pleaser.
Plain and simple, you’ve been conditioned to believe that it’s your job to make others happy, to comply, to be the helper, and to always do the right thing. That translates in your head as “I have to say yes because if I say no, people won’t love me as much. They’ll be mad and that doesn’t feel good.” This level of thinking isn’t exactly true. As a recovering people pleaser myself, I can tell you that the need for approval runs a lot deeper than being able to say no. Saying yes all the time is only one symptom of the need for approval. However, it doesn’t feel good when you disappoint others. But I challenge you to think about these questions. First, when you say yes but you really wanted to say no, how do you feel while you’re carrying out the task asked of you? Chances are you feel just as bad because you know you said yes when you didn’t really want to do this thing in the first place. This is a problem because not only are you now giving 50% effort in the task, you’re harboring a lot of irritation, resentment and maybe even anger. How is that helping the person who asked for the help? How is it helping you?
Secondly, when you say yes but really wanted to say no, you’re giving away your power over your time, energy, and priorities. With your actions, you’re telling the other person that they come before yourself. So if you say no, you’re telling that person that “hey! I’m really sorry but I matter. My time matters. My priorities matter.” You’re affirming that whatever you’re saying yes to (more time with family, friends, yourself, your money, your other resources) is more important than what they were asking for. So now ask yourself, if this person is disappointed in you putting yourself and your happiness over them, how good of a friend/loved one are they really? Who does that say more about, you or them?
Next, I say this a lot in my coaching. There is a massive difference between helping and enabling. Helping is doing something for others that they can’t do themselves. Enabling is doing something for others that they can do for themselves, they just choose not to. Those who are enabled once will continue to come back to you knowing you’ll never say no to them and you’ll continue to enable them. They are like a leech. They’ll suck the energy right out of you and never move on until you start putting yourself first! Along with that, how are you helping them live into their fullest potential if you’re constantly enabling them and never setting those much needed boundaries?
You fear the feeling of guilt.
This goes hand in hand with being a people pleaser but it also runs much deeper. Why do you feel guilty? Now ask yourself Why again and a third time. Maybe journal on this. When you hit that 3rd why deep, you’ll uncover a monsterous breakthrough. Feel free to email me when you hit this breakthrough and let me know what you uncovered. I love hearing stories of people leveling up!
Here’s how to calm the guilt though because Lord knows, learning to say no is not an overnight experience. So start by saying something like “That sounds interesting, let me check my calendar” or asking “Can I think about it?” You can even politely say something like “You know, I’m just not sure that I’m the right fit for that job but I sure appreciate you asking/thinking of me!” You don’t have to bluntly say NO, just don’t immediately say yes. Remember, if your heart and soul aren’t in it, you’ll end up giving 50% and find yourself in the toxic realm of resentment and negativity. Which is more beneficial in the long run for both of you? 50% effort or 100% effort? Positivity and joy or anger and resentment?
I saw a shirt about a year ago and while I probably wouldn’t have worn it much, I still love the saying-
If it’s not a HELL YES, it’s gotta be a No.