If you're like me, you have a history of finding it difficult to say no, even when it's for your own good. Taking on board the habit of pleasing others before yourself, and being polite no matter what, will be other traits you likely possess too.
I've always found it difficult to say no. And when I look back, there were many things I didn't want to do, but I was too afraid to speak my truth.
This year, I've been working hard to identify what I do and do not want in my life; people, habits, and situations that do not serve me well. To be completely honest, it's been hard, and there's been a fair amount of grief involved in letting go. But, it's been worth it! Keeping at it is they key, and with practice it is getting easier.
Chatting with a friend this morning gave me another opportunity to say no, and it's what prompted this post. Earlier in the year I'd engaged this person as a coach, we did some work together which was great, and still have another session to do when I'm ready. A few weeks ago we chatted online and she suggested a friendly girly catch up, but I wasn't in the space to do that then (which of course was another opportunity to say no). This morning when I reached out for that girly chat, she was thinking I meant another coaching session, so I had another opportunity to say no, as I'm not yet ready for that session.
When I look at my life, I have many opportunities to say no, so I thought I'd share a few of those.
Unfollowing on social media. At times I follow pages that I'm drawn to without having researched them too much. In the days, weeks or months that follow, I discover that some of their content doesn't sit right with me. This is an opportunity to say no to that content coming into my newsfeed, my space.
Discontinuing social groups and clubs. This year I have felt the need to pull away from a couple of social groups I have been in for the last four or five years. For a while I'd been feeling like they were no longer for me, but I felt guilty for leaving so I procrastinated. However, as soon as I resigned, I felt so much better.
Pulling back from certain people. Over the last few years I've distanced myself from people I was feeling uncomfortable being around. In particular, I was noticing that I felt very stressed when I was in the company of some (due to previous encounters), and even when I had thoughts about having conversations with them I'd become anxious and that was affecting my mental health.
Doing things out of guilt. When I write I often lay in bed late into the morning, and I really enjoy that. It's something I allow myself to do now at times. I say no to getting up early out of guilt. Previously I would have gotten up early because I was afraid of what others would think, or that I'd be judged as being lazy (I'm anything but lazy!)
Leaving messages until I'm ready to answer them. This is a biggie for me. With running a business, social media and email are a large part and I was always on my page or in my inbox. Not now. Getting into a routine with checking these on certain days has meant a massive feeling of freedom.
The reason I felt relieved, is because I was honouring myself. By putting myself first, rather than continuing to feel guilty, I felt more love for, and honouring of myself. And the more I spoke my truth, the stronger I felt.
Now I find is it's easier to say no. Not easy, easier. Like anything, the more often I say no, the easier it gets.
There are many ways we can say no to others and to ourselves. By taking the time to check-in with ourselves we can identify some of those ways. And the more we do that, the better we get at it.
1. Set aside 10-15 minutes.
2. Take a pen and paper.
3. Sit quietly, close your eyes and take 3 deep full breaths.
4. Ask yourself: Where in my life do I want to say no?
5. Open your eyes and make a list of as many as you can think of.
You may find it useful to work with a counsellor, therapist, healer or coach to work through your list. It can be difficult doing this for the first time and having a someone to support you can be comforting.
I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments.