Four ways to flex your No muscle!

Exercise your No MuscleNo is not a dirty word! Saying no will help you be more successful. Don’t believe me? Here are just a few of the quotes from some people you may be more likely to believe…

“It’s only by saying no that you can concentrate on the things that are really important”-Steve Jobs.

“No one ever went broke by saying no too often”– Harvey McKay.

“When you say yes to others, make sure you are not saying no to yourself”– Paulo Coelho

Are you familiar with Gretchen Rubin’s four tendencies? If you’re interested you can check them out here… according to Gretchen’s quiz I am an obliger, which means I like to meet outer expectations but resist meeting inner expectations. For this reason, I find it especially hard to say no.

My mom is a home daycare provider. I remember this one piece of advice that she gave me about being a mother (long before I had a child) like it was yesterday.  She told me to pause and take a moment when one of my children asks me for something. She said don’t automatically say no. She wanted me to make sure what they were asking for was something that I really didn’t want them to do. Because she said once you say no you can’t take it back or they’ll never learn that you mean what you say.

That’s advice has really stayed with me and I’ve tried really hard to practice it in the last nine years since I became a mom. Unfortunately, I may be a little bit too good at it. Even though it has made me a really good mother it’s also helped me become way too accessible.

So why is this a problem?

It feels good to say yes, it feels good to help people out. It’s really nice to be counted on, it makes you feel important.

Over the years, I have come to learn the problem is that there is only one of me. If you’re busy helping everyone else then you will not be able to help yourself. You will not be able to take on the extra responsibilities you may want to do. You will not be able to further your career. It’s great to be the person that’s counted on but sometimes we have to count on ourselves.

How do you do it?

Just like everything else, it takes practice. Here are some things you can do …

1.) When someone asks you to do something, tell them that you need to think about it, and check your calendar to see if you can fit it in. That way you can call them back later when the pressure is off and let them know that you can’t do it.

2.) Sometimes it even helps to practice in the mirror or to role-play with a friend.  Have one of your friends ask you to do something and practice saying no. This may feel foolish but it’s really a powerful tool to strengthen your “no” muscle.

3.) Keep in mind, if you’re saying yes to something, then you’re saying no to something else. Even if you don’t mind say no to yourself, think about the fact that you may be saying no to your family or friends.

4.) It may be helpful to write down how much time that you’ve saved each time you tell someone no; that way you can have a running total of what you have gained.

Saying no is also saying yes.

Remember, you are only one person and you have a limited amount of time and energy.  Neither of these is easy to replenish. Make the most of your precious resources, practice saying no.

Next time someone asks you for some of your precious resources, ask yourself if what they’re asking for will bring you joy? If you honestly can’t say that it will, then you should say no. Join the discussion and tell the Mentally Awake community about one of your experiences with the word No.


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