Is Avoiding Saying No Getting in the Way of Your Emotional Health?

When you say “no” do you follow it up with an explanation, a justification, or a lengthy story? If so, why? Is it because you were taught to give people lots of details about your response to their request for your time and attention? Is it because you want to be “extra clear”? Or is it because you actually suffer from people-pleasing and the guilt that ensues when you say, “no” seems unbearable?

Asha Tarry, Life Coach

Well, as a former and recovering people-pleaser myself, I understand why you might be troubled by simply giving 1-word responses. But, as you begin to understand the interplay between your wants and needs and how you feel about the ways other people perceive you, you may better understand why it’s hard to say just 2 simple letters without rationalizing your answer.

Here’s a few reasons and if you want, write these down and be honest with yourself about doing this:

      1. You never liked the way it felt to be disappointed by someone, so you don’t want anyone else to feel that way either.

      2. You believe that people will get upset with you and possibly stop talking to you and you believe that could be the worse feeling to deal with than saying no.

      3. You imagine people will react strongly to you refusing their request so you avoid what you think (not what you certainly know, in some cases) will be a bad reaction from them.

      4. You want to be liked by everyone, so you say yes a lot more than you want to.

      5.  You experience such physical discomfort when you start thinking about rejecting someone and because you may not know what to do when that happens, you respond quickly to most things without thinking about how you feel or think about it.

I get it, any one or more of those experiences could feel like the end of the world, but it’s not. If you think about your life on a spectrum you can probably remember many times before where people didn’t hate you or call you names or stop speaking to you because you were unavailable or unwilling to do something for them. On the flip side, if that has happened to you, then you may be experiencing a strong reaction in the present to an incident that happened in the past, and in that case you’re not aware of what’s going on in the moment something new happens so the familiarity of it feels like deja’vu.

The next time someone asks you to do something and you either feel conflicted, unsure, or uninterested I want you to try these 3 steps and let me know how it went:

      1. Stop what you’re doing and repeat to yourself what you heard them say. If you need to be sure, repeat it back to them and inform the person that you wanted to verify you heard everything correctly (or simply repeat what they said and leave the rest out—it could seem weird to people if they don’t know what you’re doing.)

      2. Tell them you will get back to them and request or give a timeline for your returned response.

      3. While away from the other person check in with your thoughts and ask, “do I want to do what I’m being asked?” “do I have the energy or time for it?”

      4. Write these questions down if it helps and answer them. Stay focused on breathing while you write and reflect. If you feel overwhelmed at all, pause and make a reminder note or send a reminder email to yourself to return to your thoughts later or the next day.

      5. When later or the next day arrives, inquire within with “how do I feel about this?” Recall what you tend to do when you’re conflicted? Challenge yourself to do something different this time and stay present to what you feel. Then, decide. Avoid procrastinating until the person returns to you or you get too close to the deadline. Decide and respond. Breathe through it and if emailing over calling helps, then do that. Don’t do nothing at all and don’t avoid. It’s avoiding things that has made your anxiety worse.

      6. BONUS: If you tend to have a hard time making decisions ask someone you know who doesn’t struggle with that to hold you accountable. Or poll your friends on social media and get advice.

Until next time my awesome and prosperous Village, keep making waves. Asha…

*This blog is about becoming free. It’s a reflection of introspective thoughts and experiences that have crossed miles of self-discovery. I created this blog to inspire others to live life with less self-criticism, judgment and openness to new experiences. May you find that you learn how to live a life by design and on your own terms!*

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