Only two letters; N and O, but oh how hard they can be to put together and say out loud.
Through the feeling of social obligation, trying to prove oneself in the work place, not wanting to let a friend down, not being able to escape a role that we have played (the one that gives good advice, the nurturer etc.), or simply not wanting to hurt someone’s feelings, we end up committing to things that can in fact be harmful to us. By harmful I mean by putting ourselves in a social situation that could be upsetting, by trying to take on too much and raising our stress levels, costing us sleep by fretting over it, and overall not putting our own well-being first. By saying “Yes” to something, are we saying “No” to ourselves?
Time is a limited resource we have, and one we can not get back. It is our choice how we use our precious time, and so we need to ensure we are investing this in areas that align with our goals and with us personally.
This is an area I have become stronger in over the last couple of years, and in all honesty, I have had to say “No” more to protect my heart with matters surrounding the infertility space. I have said “No” to baby showers, children’s birthday parties, and large group catch ups with groups of mothers. I have said “No” by unfollowing people on social media who only write about babies, or those who write comments that are highly insensitive and offensive to someone with fertility struggles. I have declined seeing people when I need some space and time to recharge. This is not easy. Feelings of guilt arise at not being there for other people, particularly for important milestones in their lives. I have had concerns of how I am making friends feel by me making that choice to not attend events, which again makes me feel guilty. I have wondered whether I am being too sensitive and actually silly at other times, and whether it is detrimental in some way to not be following certain people in the ‘wellness’ space. Then I remember how I am left feeling, the tears, and the upset phone calls to my sister (who will always tell me to unfollow them, leave their house, or tell them you are not doing it NOW) after these have taken place.
My well-being is affected.
I am not practicing self-love.
Saying “No” is done out of self-love.
To improve my art of saying “No” I have learnt the following things:
– Don’t say “Yes” to things straight away. You can say you will think about it, get back to someone or simply take time to respond (obviously depending on the forum, this may be awkward standing there silently in a 1:1 conversation). Having this space to think about it will allow you to say “No” upfront, rather than a last-minute cancellation which does let people down, or going along with something you didn’t want to.
– When saying “No” you do not owe an explanation! This is one of the hardest parts for me personally. This comes out of wanting to minimise the guilty feelings, and wanting to avoid other people thinking poor of me. You can of course provide an explanation, but you do not need to, “I don’t want to” is explanation enough!
– Why are you apologising? This is linked with owing the explanation, and minimising the negativity towards ourselves. By all means, if you are actually sorry about something (there is a clash), then apologise, but if you aren’t sorry, don’t apologise.
“So sorry, I can’t make the group dinner as I have something else on. Hope it goes well x”
– Be proactive. By telling people what your priorities and goals are, what is upsetting and what you are focusing on for your own well-being it becomes easier to decline. This means being vulnerable, and may not be possible in every situation, but it also creates an army of sorts that surround and support you. I have been in very uncomfortable situations where I have had someone back my stance simply because she knew where I was coming from.
– Practice makes perfect it easier. The more you say “No” it does get easier, the guilt subsides, the explanations and apologies dwindle. For me, this was because I realised it was coming from a place of self-love and not being mean or selfish.
– Know your direction, priorities and bottom lines. Brainstorm these areas out for yourself. When you know where you want to be heading, and what you will not accept it is much easier to decline things that don’t align to you!
If this is an area you know you need to work on, maybe “I love myself enough to say No” could be a personal mantra or affirmation you regularly use.
I challenge you to say “No” in whatever form that is for you, as part of your self-love practice. Let me know how you get on, what works and what is difficult for you.
Say YES to YOU!
Mel H x