If you are someone who finds themselves spread too thin on a regular basis, taking too much on, or over committing to things you don’t really enjoy – this article can help! Learning how to say no, especially during busy periods, is a great way to practice self care and dedicate your energy to what matters most. Use the below tips and tricks to practice saying no this holiday season – so you can go into the new year with more time available to do what you love!
Why do we say yes?
We say yes for a lot of different reasons. We might be genuinely interested or excited about an event or opportunity. Or we might experience fear of missing out, be eager to please, feel pressured to participate or want to avoid conflict. It’s important to gain awareness around why we say yes to things, so we can make sure our behaviours are serving our best interests. Is saying yes adding something to your life? Great! Participate away! But if you find you are constantly saying yes to avoid other feelings (FOMO, conflict, guilt etc) – it might be time to stop saying yes to other people, and start saying yes to yourself.
Set the stage for saying no
If you are someone who always volunteers, agrees to take on more work, or jumps at every opportunity and request – it might come as a bit of a curve ball to your family and friends if you start saying no.
To make this transition easier on everyone, including yourself, set the stage by letting them know you will be trying something new. Try saying: “I’m feeling overwhelmed right now. You might hear me saying no more often than usual. I just wanted to give you the heads up”. Or start small and say no to something of little consequence first (like going to a holiday event or making 13 types of cookies when you could make 6). Consider saying no to yourself first, before other people. Do you need to pack that many things into the day or do you need to satisfy every want that you have?
In the future, when an invitation, request or task pops up – you can refer back to this by saying “I would love to, but I need to make sure I honor the commitment I mentioned to you earlier”.
Give yourself space to say no
Often we are surprised at a request or invitation, so we end up accepting before we have a chance to think it through. If your default is “yes”, but then you regret agreeing so quickly – giving yourself some time to process will help.
Ask for a chance to check your calendar before you commit. This gives you time to think about if this opportunity is truly the best way for your to spend your time and respond accordingly.
Be transparent if you decide to decline due to overwhelm instead of a conflicting commitment. There is no shame in telling someone “Yikes, that is a crazy week for me! Could I take a rain check for sometime in January?”. You might even end up with a better outcome by delaying until you have more time and energy.
If you feel judgement or pressure to participate or say “yes” remember what Wayne Dyer said: “When you judge another – you do not define them. You define yourself”.
If someone else is putting pressure on you to be somewhere or do something, this says something about them – not you. It’s about what they are looking for, not about what you can choose to provide them.
Stay curious and try and find out what they are looking for, but don’t feel obligated to provide a solution for them. Simply asking someone “Why does it mean so much for you to see this event happen?” can take the pressure off your involvement and offer the support they might need. It also helps you to discover the meaning behind requests and not just the actions, which can enhance your understanding of others and your relationships.
Saying no might not be your default, but realize that saying yes is typically a conditioned response or.habit. Give yourself the opportunity to practice the skill of saying no so you can learn and improve. Here are a few ideas:
- Make a list of 5 things you could have said “no” to in the last month. How would that have impacted your time?
- Experiment with turning down a percentage of commitments, would 30% fewer activities bring your more balance?
- Make it fun! Challenge yourself to say “no” 5 times this week. It can be anything from saying “no thank you” to whip at Starbucks, to turning down an invitation to your 3rd Christmas party of the weekend. Seeking out opportunities to practice saying no in various environments will change your perspective from reactive to active!
The holiday season is the perfect time to practice saying no to things you don’t truly want to commit your time to. Pick a strategy, and see how it works for you.
What do you learn about yourself as you decide where you want to put your energy? Is saying no easier or harder than you anticipated. As always, practice judgement free awareness with yourself and collect data, not emotions along the way.
I would love to hear what you plan to say no to this holiday season, please leave a comment below!