Learning to say ‘no’

Andrea Piacquadio/pexels.com. If the demands of others are causing you stress, remember that you are the one in control of scheduling your time.

You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage — pleasantly, smilingly, non-apologetically — to say “no” to other things. And the way you do that is by having a bigger “yes” burning inside.”

~ Stephen Covey

These days everyone seems to be stretched for time. Even with multi-tasking, it seems there is never time to do all we need or want to do. For some, this problem is exacerbated because they have a hard time saying “no” to the requests, demands or expectations of others.

While it is well and good to be the one others can depend on, and to be counted on to lend a helping hand, this can quickly get out of control. If you find yourself running just to keep up, or if your family is complaining that they never see you, it is time to re-assess what you are doing.

If you are always available every time someone calls on you, then they will assume they can expect you will always be there when they need you. They will not respect your time, or the fact that you too have a life, with plenty of your own things to do.

A good rule of thumb might be that unless it is an emergency, if you already have plans, you do not drop what you are doing to go and do something for another. If you want to help, then discuss a time that would work for you.

If it is social obligations that keep you hopping, look realistically at your life commitments and demands, and decide just how much time you want to devote to these.

It is perfectly okay to turn down some invitations because you have other plans, even if it is simply to take some alone time soaking in the tub, or spending time with your children. If you realize you are saying “yes” to something you really do not want to do, or are doing it out of a sense of obligation, take time to rethink.

Sometimes those who over commit are pleasers. They want others to like them and think highly of them, so they put others ahead of themselves. It also happens that they fear if they say “no” others will be upset with them. That may happen; however, it is important to show others that you have boundaries. Over time others will come to respect you and your time.

If the demands of others are causing you stress, remember that you are the one in control of scheduling your time. Stress is not good for health or relationships, so if life seems to be going too fast, consider ways to slow it down. Your physical and emotional health will feel the benefits.

Gwen Randall-Young is an author and award-winning psychologist. For permission to reprint this article, or to obtain books, CDs or MP3s, visit www.gwen.ca. Follow Gwen on Facebook for inspiration.