The Gift of No – Saying No Without Guilt

I used to have a tough time saying no, especially since I’m also part of the hospitality industry. For example, we get these random requests like can we have a BBQ in the monsoon season. The place where we host has a crazy amount of rain, so it becomes difficult to really offer these features, plus our main BBQ is outdoor. I would still go the extra mile to do a temporary setup to accommodate requests where I can just say no.

Going out of my way to say yes, really puts a lot of strain on myself, managing a BnB which is nearly 5* on Airbnb requires a lot of effort in itself and then to push myself even more to accommodate requests was really taking the energy that I have reserved for family and self-care.

Saying no can be a difficult thing, not just for me, but for many people. This is especially true for somebody who feels like they need to be “selfless” or “giving” or “helpful”. But, being helpful doesn’t mean putting others first! While it’s important to sort of help others and give your best, it’s also important to perform self-care and look out for yourself.

Have you ever felt guilty when you said “No” to someone, or have you tried to think of a polite way to avoid saying no without having guilt feelings? If this resonates, then this article is just for you.

The Word “No”

The word “no” can be a powerful tool. It can also be an uncomfortable one, and that’s why many people find it difficult to say “no” to others, no matter how much they may want to.

What if you could find freedom in the place where most of us feel guilt? What if you were fully empowered to live your life on your terms — without the guilt that usually accompanies “No”.

As Pamela Slim says in her book, Escape from Cubicle Nation, “Learning how to say “No” frees us from trying to be all things to all people so that we can be who we are meant to be.”

Learn to say no to the second helping of pie. Say no to that late-night trip to the vending machine. Say no to pushing yourself so hard that you collapse in exhaustion on the couch every night. Saying no can be hard because, you don’t want to disappoint people, or miss out on something fun, or let yourself down by giving up on a goal.

But sometimes you have to put a stop to things that are harmful or unproductive, and doing so is among the most powerful tools for self-improvement you can acquire.

Also, the idea of saying no can be daunting as it’s easy for people to interpret “no” as “you’re not important,” or “I’m better than you,” or “I don’t care about your feelings.” But saying no doesn’t have to be rude, and it’s often an important part of maintaining healthy relationships

You don’t have to feel guilty about saying no to things that don’t fill you up. We have a lot of conflicting expectations in our society. On the one hand, we’re supposed to be busy, ambitious and active. On the other hand, we’re supposed to be loving and giving to people and always available to help others.

The conflict between these expectations can create a lot of guilt when you say no. When you’re stretched thin, but someone asks for your help, you may feel like you’re failing them by saying no — but then you’ll probably also feel resentful if you say yes.

It’s hard to learn how to say no without feeling guilty. But it’s possible. And there are several techniques that can help:

Be honest and straightforward without being cruel. I used to say yes all the time because I felt like I had to offer an excuse when I said no, but that just made it harder on both of us. Now I’m learning to just say no directly. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable for me to say no, but that’s part of growing as a person, and people are usually much more understanding than I expect them to be.

When people ask me if I’m afraid of missing out when I say no to an event or activity, I remind myself that I’m afraid of missing out on myself. I’m afraid of missing out on the life that I want, the life that works best for my family.

I don’t have time to stop and wonder if someone might be feeling bad about how I said no or why I said no because there is so much more going on in my life that brings me joy and fills me with love.

Saying no to others gives you the freedom to say yes to other things.

“When you say no to the wrong people, it opens up the space for the right people to come in.” ~ Joe Calloway

The ability to say no is a gift. It gives you the freedom to say yes to other things. You’re not for everyone, so you’re going to have to give yourself permission to be selective about what you do and who you spend your time with.

Make a list of the things that are important to you such as, having dinner with the family, exercising, volunteering and then compare that list with your calendar. If your calendar doesn’t match the things on the list, then it’s time to start saying no.

You don’t have to live an either-or life all the time, we all have obligations and commitments, but when possible you have to give yourself options and choices in your life. Your “no” will become more powerful as you realize how much freedom it can bring.

Saying no to yourself makes you stronger and more resilient than ever.

“In order for us to practice self-control, we must have a goal. We must have something we are saying “yes” to, which necessarily comes with things that we must say “no” to. We use self-control to maneuver ourselves toward this “yes.” This goal must be entirely our own. The minute another person is choosing and managing our goals for us, we have left self-control behind.” ~ Danny Silk

We’re all familiar with the advice of saying no to others. But far fewer people are familiar with the idea of saying no to yourself. And that’s a shame because when you say no to yourself, it becomes easier to say yes to what matters most in life.

Saying no makes you stronger and more resilient than ever. You can face the world with confidence, knowing that you are in control of your life and that you are making decisions based on your own values and needs. A world without “no” is one where other people’s demands, rules and expectations take precedence over your own needs.

Learn to say no to yourself as well. Saying no to your inner critic helps you silence the negative thoughts that hold you back from doing what matters most to you. Saying no to toxic people helps keep them out of your life, saying no to guilt trips helps build healthy boundaries with others, and saying no when it comes to spending money helps you save for the future or invest in things that are important to you.

Don’t feel bad about saying no to yourself. Remember, saying no to yourself makes you stronger and more resilient than ever.

Learn to recognize your limits to enable you to say no

“Love yourself enough to set boundaries. Your time and energy are precious. You get to choose how you use it. You teach people how to treat you by deciding what you will and won’t accept.” ~ Anna Taylor

The first step to being able to say no is knowing where your limits are. Learn to recognize when your schedule is full, and turning down another commitment would make things unmanageable. By learning what your limits are, you’ll be better equipped to know when it’s time to say no.

Most of us are taught to be nice, helpful, kind and considerate. But the price we pay for being “nice” is high — it can lead to exhaustion, resentment, burnout and illness. Learning to say no is vital to your own well-being and personal growth.

To begin with, your first limit is the same as everyone’s, time. The workday is only so long, and there are only so many hours in the day and weeks in a year. You probably have commitments outside of work as well. There is only so much time you can devote to work projects before you start sacrificing your personal life or causing your health to suffer.

While the second limit is the energy you have. We all go through phases where we’re highly motivated and then times when we’d rather watch TV or game.

So ensure that when you say yes, you either have surplus time or energy to commit to the obligation or favor you are committing yourself to.

People pleasing

So many people have become conditioned to say yes to everything that is asked of them, without thinking whether they actually have the time or inclination. If this rings true for you, stop and think about why you say yes so often. It’s important to recognize your limits, both physical and emotional. It’s easy to over-commit yourself, which can lead to feelings of resentment towards others.

Saying no clearly and assertively means removing the stress of trying to meet other people’s expectations and allows you to live your life on your terms. Saying yes all the time will eventually leave you feeling exhausted and resentful towards others. If you’re constantly being pulled in different directions by other people’s demands, learn how to say no more often – it will be empowering!

The Art of Saying No

The Art of Saying No: Kenny Nguyen at TEDxLSU

I personally love the concept of No being a protective shield in the above video, also learning to trust your inner voice is something that I have a constant issue with. Sometimes that voice is screaming, and I feel like I have plugged my ears at times. I really have to harness the ability of tuning into my intuition again.

I do hope this article has helped you work with some of your difficulties with saying no, doing this one really lets me see the value of my time much more and prioritize what’s important for me!

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A Psychonaut who believes that humans have tremendous unharnessed powers within. To be immersed in the boundless gifts of nature and being self-sufficient is my Ikigai. With years of web tech experience, I founded and maintain Fractal Enlightenment.
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