improve on saying 'no' to get the life you want
Updated: Apr 21
Saying no is establishing a boundary for yourself. It shows you know what is and is not right for you. It keeps what you want in and what you don't want out. If you know who you are, you usually have an easy time with this. You are able to tell what does and does not resonate with you. This ability keeps you moving in your authentic direction. If you are not clear on who you are, it can be very challenging to determine if something is a good fit for you. You may say yes to far too many things. A consequence of that is it allows everything to come at you. If this is you, you normally have a hard time getting what is right for you because you don't know what is right.
If you understand who you are, you are probably clear about your values. Values are like filters for your life. If something is not aligning with your values then likely it's not right for you. Saying no to those situations keeps opportunities that are right for you open. If you feel betrayed by someone, they likely did something against your values. It can explain why you enjoy certain people and why you don't enjoy others. Values are critically important to be clear on because they are like a code of conduct for your life. The better you know your values the easier you are able to say no to things.
So let's get clear on your values. Take a moment to look up a list of values. This is where I started, and still do. Certain words will resonate with you more than others. Make a list of about five of your values. Hold on to the list. You might enjoy writing down your values every day or you might enjoy reflecting on them every once in a while. Practice saying them out loud. How does this feel in your body? Your values should align with who you are and what you stand for in life. If you struggle to know who you are, understanding your values is a great start to this.
The second thing with your values is to understand why that is your value. If truth is one of your values, why is it one of your values? Is it because you didn't have honest parents as a child and want that now? Is it because you try to be honest with yourself and those around you and want to be treated the same? The why will reveal the deeper level of what is behind your values. It will give meaning to them and provide a solid ground to stand on with who you are.
Values can change as you change. If you think back to your life ten years ago, you may have a couple of different things you find important as you did then. As life changes your values can change. If you are working on self-development, this also may change your values if you are healing deeply. Major life events also affect your values. Your values before and after you have your first child will probably change.
So now that you have your values and understand why they resonate with you, you can start turning your focus to the outside world with this. Saying no is so important to keep in tune with your values. Learning to say no or getting better at saying no is a skill, and skills take time and failure to learn. So be patient with yourself and remember to fail forward. Also, know that we can all get better at saying no. It is not a practice it once and you're done thing.
There are lots of ways to say no. You can say 'that is not right for me'. You can say 'thank you but no thank you'. You can say 'I don't have the time today for that'. It does not always have to be a firm no. Many people are afraid of letting others down or hurting other people by saying no. Remember you need to align with your values. You are important here. No one else knows your values, so if you aren't looking after your own values no one else will. Saying no will show yourself you are important and valuable. If you are always saying yes, you are probably not showing yourself you are important. Saying no in new ways can be terrifying. But you can do this. It's just a new life skill. You can start by doing this online or through a text message. It will give you time to think and prepare your message. You can practice with your pet. You can also change your mind if you agree to something and realize later it's not right for you. You can say something like 'I'm so sorry to do this but I've thought about it and realized it is not right for me'. That is a soft way of telling people that you aren't aligning with it anymore. It's ok to change your mind.
You won't be perfect at this, but you can get better. We can all get better at saying no in new ways. The better you are with this, the more you value yourself and life will get significantly easier and better for you. Please share how your experience! Also if you want to join a group on Facebook which is interactive, safe, and supportive, the Find Freedom Facebook group is a fantastic place to practice. We would love you to join us!
Photo credit: Johannes Plenio on Unsplash