“When you are saying ‘yes’ to others, make sure you are not saying ‘no’ to yourself.” –Paulo Coelho
If we’re completely honest with ourselves, most of us will admit that we feel guilty saying no. We’re taught to say yes and believe that it’s the key to new opportunities and success. Saying no, we fear, may cause us to “miss out on the best, lose out on the rest, and fail to impress.”
But the fact is that sometimes, saying no is what’s best. In some cases, saying no can actually open more doors. We say no to some things, so that we can say yes to things that really matter.
If you’re finding it difficult to fit everything into your day, and are stressed, overwhelmed, and out of time, then saying no may be just what you need to free yourself up to focus on things that are important to you. Sometimes, saying no is just what you need. Let’s look at a few reasons you should stop feeling guilty, and start saying no to things that aren’t beneficial or valuable to you.
Saying No Allows You to Help Yourself and Help Others
Think about the typical flight attendant message, says Sue Johnston, a communications coach. “In case of emergency, put your oxygen mask on first, then help others around you.”
In everyday life, the same principles apply. If you’re stressed out and overscheduled from saying yes all the time, you won’t be available for things that really matter. In essence you won’t be available to support anyone else if you’re booked to the max and unable to breathe! So stop feeling guilty for saying no. Instead, remind yourself that keeping some breathing room in your schedule is important for your well-being and your family’s happiness as well.
Saying No Can Open Up New Opportunities
Don’t say yes simply for the sake of being agreeable. Before agreeing to something, ask yourself if this offer is something that matters to you; or something that will enrich your life in some way. You’re the only one who can identify your priorities in life, so give yourself permission to say no to an invitation to the second cousin’s wedding or a chance to interview for a position that you’re just not interested in. If it’s not something that you want to do, saying no will free you up to focus on things that you’d rather spend your time doing. Choose things that will bring value to your life.
Saying No Allows You to Focus on Your Happiness
Finally, don’t say no in an attempt to keep everyone happy: it won’t happen. Even if you sign up for a number of charity events this month, eventually you’ll reach a point where you’ll have to say no. The secret is to make sure you say it long before you reach breaking point. Say yes to those things that you really enjoy helping with, and “Sorry, but I have way too much going,” to those things that risk encroaching on your other priorities.
At the end of the day only you can decide which things you should agree to, and which ones you should turn down. So focus on setting goals, prioritizing your life, and accepting things that are close to your heart, or ones that will serve as stepping stones towards success. Avoid saying yes just to make people happy, and instead focus on creating your happiness by filling your schedule with meaningful tasks and activities. You’ll feel more fulfilled, and less guilty about saying no.
Do you feel guilty for saying no? How do you politely turn down offers that you aren’t able to accept?
Image: Sonny Abesamis