Why Can’t Some People Say No?

Why do some people find it so hard to say “no”?  With our lives all spiralling out of control with the amount of stress we take on each day, one of the simplest ways to lower our stress levels is to learn to say, “no”.

Some people are scared of saying “no” for fear of giving offense or of being seen as rude and unhelpful.  And certainly, when said in the wrong tone, saying “no” can be both rude and offensive of course.  However, when said firmly, politely and couched in appropriate explanations, it is one of the most empowering and liberating words in the English language.  And it can also help to lower your stress levels – something we all need in these stressful times.

But how do you say “no” when someone needs your help? It can be tough when you know that there is no-one else who can readily help and you may feel emotionally blackmailed to help out.  In this situation, you need to be firm and explain politely why you cannot help.  be considerate and offer alternatives if you can.  Maybe you could assist in a different way which would not take up quite so much of your time?  Or maybe you know of someone else who could help instead?  Either way, you need to be true to yourself if you don’t want to end up frustrated and tense, especially if saying “yes” ultimately means that you would miss out on something else that you did want to do.

Of course if you find it particularly difficult to say no, it could be because you lack the necessary self confidence. Low self esteem can force people to say “yes” when they really want to say “no” because doing what other people want them to do makes them feel loved, wanted, even important.  But they are mistaken.  People like this are taken for granted, undervalued and used.  Eventually they realise this (even if they do not acknowledge it to themselves) and their self esteem plummets further.  They become desperate for attention and say “yes” to anything anyone asks of them, and the whole cycle starts again.  They are scared that if they say no, that no-one will notice them anymore.

However, constantly doing someone else’s bidding in this way and ignoring our own wants and needs (and the wants and needs of your self esteem) is a sure way to pile on the stress.  And if saying “yes” means that you feel a knot tightening in your stomach, then you should say “no” even if you think it will make you unpopular.

However, if you really cannot say “no”, then don’t beat yourself up about it.  Decide to do the task in good humor.  Apply  yourself.  Be diligent and enthusiastic. If you do this, time will fly and you will feel less stressed.  And who knows, you might even enjoy yourself!

Be assertive.  Learn to say “no” when you need to and notice how your stress levels fall.

What tricks do you use to help you say “no”?

Are You Your Own Source of Stress?

Stress arises if we believe that an excessive amount has been expected of us and that we don’t have any command on the circumstances. For example, most people would feel the pressure of undertaking a tough project at work which had short deadlines at exactly the time our child fell ill. Or how about juggling a school Nativity play with the Christmas shop ahead of the in-laws arriving this evening with an unscheduled trip to the dentist for a chipped tooth?

But I’m guessing that most of us actually put ourselves under too much stress on a daily basis.  And by this I mean stress that is not actually real.  I’m talking about the negative self talk excuses we repeat mantra-like every day to make sure we do not succeed in doing even things that we say we DO want to do.

Why do we sabotage ourselves like this?

How many times have you found yourself using lack of time as an excuse?  Sure there may be a good reason why you cannot do something right now, but do you really think it’s likely that you will NEVER have the time to do it EVER at ANY stage in your future life? No, me neither.  After all, we all seem to find enough time to do the things we really want to do, like watch the television, or take our kids to football, ballet, parties, music classes etc. 

So what’s going on?

I think there are several reasons why we continually make excuses for not doing things we really want to do. 

Firstly, maybe we do NOT actually want to do what we think we do.  Maybe we just think we OUGHT to.  If this is the case, then stop stressing about it.  Admit that you don’t want to do it, and move on.

Secondly, we DO actually want to do it but secretly or subconsciously feel scared that doing whatever will set us apart, or alienate us from our friends and loved ones.  Being part of the in-crowd, or peer pressure, is a powerful motivator and, if it works to keep you in a little life when you dream of flying, then it is also a powerful suppressor.  If this is the case, then you need to judge carefully what is more important for you in the long run. 

To do this, imagine where you will be in 10 years time and you have NOT done whatever it is.  How do you feel?  Is there a knot in your stomach and do you feel regret and longing?  If so, then you need to figure out how you are going to achieve your dreams because living with the stress of under achievement will make you ill as you resent your friends and loved ones in the long run.

Thirdly, we DO actually want to do this thing but secretly or subconsciously we feel that WE are not worthy of the success of whatever would result.  This is  the most serious kind of self sabotage because your excuses are holding you hostage.  You will feel stressed as you increasingly find displacement activities – activities that you do instead of whatever you know you should be doing. 

In this case it is crucial that you stop the negative self talk that you are probably using to make your excuses.  I’m talking about things like, “I don’t have time..”, “No-one will want to listen to me”, or “I don’t deserve this” and so on.  In this case, look inside yourself and figure out why you are using negative self talk and address THIS issue. Positive affirmations are very useful if you need to change your mindset but you do need to use them, stick them up and say them out loud to yourself.  

When reinforced through constant repetition the subconscious accepts positive affirmations as true and then makes them reality.  The same is true of excuses and negative self talk presented to the subconscious over and over again.  So why not choose to make your self talk positive?  Use positive affirmations and you will be more empowered, make your dreams a reality and lower your stress.