When to say No

Ever have one of those days when despite your better judgement you find yourself becoming more and more upset about something out of your control?  You can feel your blood pressure rising, your face becoming flush and no matter how many deep breathing techniques you try to remember there is no stopping this train?  This is likely a “no” moment. 

This happened to me recently.  With every sentence spoke, every word that passed through my ears, my blood temperature rose.  Finally I had to find a way to make pleasant excuses to remove myself from the situation.  Pleasant excuses because this wasn’t an argument, there wasn’t any fighting or yelling, just me getting hotter and hotter and therefore more restless as time ticked along.  Speaking my mind would have been very hurtful to many, so I simply removed myself from the situation. 

It is our job to look after ourselves, which includes removing yourself from toxic environments, situations and relationships. Learning that it is okay to reject something, remembering that the world won’t come to a screeching halt just because you did.  Why is it that people haven’t troubles saying yes, even when it makes them uncomfortable, but no seems so hard?

It pulls at our inner most strings and makes us feel guilty, or wrong, or difficult.  Having boundaries is healthy, having respect for other’s boundaries is healthy. People make efforts of change all the time.  Joining the gym and saying no to the couch, starting a diet and saying no to bread or beer, not answering the phone at the end of a long day when it’s someone who stresses you out.  Saying no to the snooze button even when you know it’s going to be a tough day.  You know how to say no, but are you saying it enough?

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Mark Manson describes the abruptness and blunt nature of the Russian culture in his book “The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck” (2016).  A wonderful little book that I finally got around to reading a few months back.  Paraphrasing here but Manson writes that the Russian people are blunt and they are honest. Essentially they are protective of themselves, freeing themselves to lead happy healthy lives.  They are not afraid to say no. 

I’m not suggesting to anyone just turn off all filters and run around bluntly speaking your mind to the world.  Just simply that you not be afraid to say no.  No instead of yes, no instead of a guilt ridden maybe, no instead of chuck you Farley.  Why say yes when it will cause pain or stress?  Never forget that no is a complete sentence.  You don’t need some shiny excuse, just no.

Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes before you say no is a nice idea, but sometimes that’s all it is. A nice idea.  If you know saying yes is going to cause you unreasonable amounts of grief be honest with yourself.  Rejecting someone or something that will cause strife maybe difficult in the present, but remember the 5 by 5 rule.

“5×5 Rule:  If it’s not going to matter in 5 years, don’t spend more than 5 minutes worrying about it!”

Before I say yes to something I give it the trinity test. I check in with myself: head, heart and gut.  If there’s only positive feedback from two out of three I take a second look before making a decision.  Chances are pretty good if I proceed on a two out of three decision, it will become a one or none soon enough.  Regrets will be had, guilt will be felt, stress will rise and ugly symptoms will rear their nasty little heads. 

You know yourself better than anyone else, so why not trust what your body is trying to tell you?  Stress and anxiety is your body telling you no.  Something during that interaction doesn’t fit, and your system wants you to know that.  So why ignore you? Listen to your body and roll with it, do what is best for you.

Sure there is living on the edge of your comfort zone, the no pain no gain argument, but I’m not talking about a starting a new circuit at the gym or a new hobby.  We’re talking mental and emotional health, your overall wellness.  You being in control of your boundaries. 

This can be hard but start small and be respectful of yourself and the situation. It will get easier in time. There will be times that test your resolve, sometimes you’ll fail, sometimes you might do great creating boundaries with one person and suck at creating them with someone else.  This is okay.  Go easy on yourself, keep at it, and remember this is important for your health and wellness.  After enough time passes people will begin to notice, to understand and be respectful of your boundaries. 

“When you know better, you do better.”

Maya Angelou

When is it okay to say no? Truthfully anytime you damn well please.  Like everything in life, rejection is a choice and every choice has an effect, a repercussion of some kind.  Repercussion doesn’t have to be a negative, it’s simply an unintended consequence.  Consider the repercussion of always saying yes.  If you’re always stressed and checked out when same person calls because you never say no, they will notice and it will impact your relationship.

How about saying no to time with family or friends?  Okay maybe you don’t want to miss Aunt Rosie’s 90th birthday party.  How about shopping though?  If all that time in crowds, being over stimulated and feeling pressured to spend money causes you anxiety, say no.  Suggest instead grabbing a cup of coffee one on one, or taking a walk together in the park to see a play, look at art features or even just to appreciate the flowers.

If you feel exhausted and just need to recharge why not take time for some self-care instead of worrying what you might miss by not going.  Odds are pretty high that if you’re feeling miserable and go out you’ll still be miserable, just miserable in public.  Give yourself permission to put you first so you live a happy balanced life.  Work up strategies for how you are going to deal with those people that stress you out that you simply can’t avoid, and avoiding those you can.

Taking charge of your life by saying no is an important step in your overall wellness, particularly for your mental health.  Can you think of an example where saying no instead of yes would have made a difference in your life?  Do you have someone that you need to set boundaries with?  Have you given up on toxic people, jobs or other situations?  I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Sending you wishes for a brighter, clearer and less toxic day!


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