The art of saying no April 01 2016, 0 Comments


Setting boundaries and learning to say no is a huge topic! It's something that I'm fascinated by and has been coming up for me for sometime. I used to be a serial 'good girl' which equated to being a 'yes girl' and a 'put-myself-last-girl.' I used to take pride in my ability to do it all! But my inability to say no has led me to serious burnout on a number of occasions. Leaving me wondering when will I ever learn? While I'm much better than I have been in the past I still revert back to old ways at times and need to keep myself in check.

How about you?

+ Do you have difficulty saying no?
+ Are you a chronic people pleaser?
+ Do you constantly worry what others will think of you?
+ Do you dislike disappointing people?
+ If you do say no, do you find you have to make a long list of excuses why and apologise profusely?
+ Do you say no then become riddled with guilt?

Saying no is actually an essential part of a self-love practice. Sure there are times we have to and really want to say yes. But can you think of times when you've said yes to something when your heart was really saying no?

Saying no makes more room to say yes to the things that really light you up!

Saying no means filling up your own cup first so you have more energy to give to others. It isn't just about saying no to people either, it's saying no to habits that don't serve you. 

Saying no means more time to spend doing the things you love with the people you love.

Without a doubt I was born with an innate desire to help others, most often to my detriment. All of that started to change a number of years ago when faced with serious burnout after working in the hospital system for over a decade. In addition to supporting my patients at work, I found myself counselling a number of my friends and family members. I didn't know how to say no, I thought it would reflect badly on me as a person or mean I didn't care for them. I was forced to learn to put myself first as my own health started to deteriorate. It was obvious I needed to set clearer boundaries and start putting myself first. I started exploring this practice of self-love, without realising it had a name and one of the things I acknowledged was that I was very average at was setting boundaries. I said yes to everything! I said yes to things that weren't good for me like another wine when I really didn't want one, staying up late when I was tired, overcommitting myself to too many social events, answering the phone when I was tired of talking all day, which all led to further burn out. The list went on and on.

You might be wondering so how do I know if I'm not great at setting boundaries or saying no?

If you're feeling exhausted, if you always put yourself last, if you run around trying to please everyone and push yourself to the nth degree, it's likely you're not great at saying no or setting boundaries.

So how can you start to change this?

Before you say yes, pause.

Before you say yes, stop and take a long, deep breath. Tune into your body. Is it a yes or is it actually a no? Does your body feel light, open and energised by saying yes or does it feel heavy, smothered or contracted? Your body/heart/intuition/soul knows the answer well before your mind. Our mind keeps us stuck in our old people pleasing ways and starts to interrupt with "but what would they think if I said no, will I disappoint them?" Learn to trust your intuition. Saying yes when you mean no is a disservice to all parties involved. If you're the only one involved and it's about saying no to a bad habit, ask yourself what is the most loving thing for me to do right now? Is it to have an apple instead of that 5th row of chocolate or is it to go to bed instead of watching another episode on Netflix? You get my drift.

Saying no is like a muscle, it gets stronger over time the more it's worked.

That's right. The more you say no, the easier it gets. You realise that the world isn't going to fall apart when you say no to someone or to a bad habit. In fact it often means someone else will step up in your place or your health, business or relationships will benefit significantly by saying no. For example, saying no to working late might mean coming home on time to spend quality time with your partner or children. Or saying no to a night out means you get to wake up early and make your early morning yoga class. You won't get labelled 'the worst person in the world' and your friend, family member or colleague will get over it. In fact they'll most likely get over it faster than you! If it's saying no to a bad habit, think of the positive in saying no. For me, my constant struggle is not getting enough sleep. Saying no to staying up late means saying yes to more sleep, which will see me more energised, more restored, more productive and clear.

Start a no jar.

Saying no for many people is super difficult. It brings up a lot of resistance and guilt! It triggers the 'good girl' and the 'people pleaser' in us all. So why not celebrate when you do say no. Try starting a 'no' jar to celebrate all the times you do say no to people, invites, activities and bad habits that you would usually say yes to. Every time you successfully say no, pop a note with a brief description of what you've said no to in the jar and what you've gained as a result. You can reflect back at how far you've come over time. Remember saying no is a good thing. It means you're learning to take better care of yourself, value your time and your energy.

Saying yes to everything can actually hold us back from achieving our goals in life. It's a form of self-sabotage. We end up overcommitting, distracting ourselves from what we truly want and deserve and this can lead to burn out, frustration and resentment. Trust me, I know!

We will be touching on this very topic of setting boundaries and saying no in my Desire Map workshop, over in my Facebook group and also in my FREE goal setting challenge coming up. 

If you're nodding your head thinking this is me, leave a comment below. What or who do you have trouble saying no to? Perhaps you have some of your own tips you'd like to share on how you say no.