The Key to Saying “No”

My name’s Michelle Zavodny, and it completely pains me to say “no” to people.

They say admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery, so there you have it. Saying no to people – be them loved ones or strangers – is something I’ve struggled with for a long time. The truth is, I find genuine joy in helping others. I thrive on making other people happy, and I absolutely HATE disappointing people. Can anyone else relate?

Recently, I realized that saying yes when you truly don’t have the time, energy or brainpower to invest in someone or something is far more destructive (physically and mentally) than the temporary discomfort of saying no. I came to this realization after having a panic attack, which was truly just the culmination of months of stress and anxiety caused by my inability to disappoint people (and inadvertently myself). A day or so after my panic attack, I was trying to think through how I could fix the sheer overwhelm I was constantly feeling. That’s when I had a little epiphany. In saying yes to everything that’s been asked of me over the past few months, I’ve said no to myself an awful lot. Has anyone else ever found themselves in this position?

The funny thing is that in the moment I THOUGHT I was getting ahead. I THOUGHT I was keeping people happy, flawlessly managing my relationships, workload, social life and being a rock star do-it-all. Looking back, though, I’ve spread myself so thin that it’s actually been unproductive. I’ve skipped countless workouts, missed meals with husband, pissed off clients and loved ones, made myself physically ill, the list goes on. All completely unintentional, but totally inevitable at the pace I’ve been running at.

I’m not telling you this because I want your pity or praise. I’m telling you this because I know I’m not the only person who has ever felt completely obligated to say yes when they know in their gut they need to say no. I know I’m not the only one who has said yes just because they don’t want to feel the awkwardness or discomfort that comes from saying no. Maybe you’ve dealt with this in the past, or perhaps it’s something you’re experiencing right now, too. Regardless, I just want to say this: Getting to know yourself, specifically knowing what your limits are, is so important. Knowing when you’re close to reaching them, and saying no to things that could potentially overwhelm you, is brilliant, healthy AND necessary. While to an outsider the word no may seem rude or disrespectful, you’re essentially respecting yourself when you exercise your right to say it. Saying no to some things gives you the power to say yes to others.

The key to saying no is understanding and accepting that it’s an actual need, not a want. It’s not malicious, nor does it mean that you don’t want to do something or spend time with someone. It means that you feel that time can be better spent doing something else, even if that something is nothing at all. We ALL need time to just be. So set your boundaries, know your limits and don’t be afraid to hurt anyone else’s feelings by looking out for your own. It doesn’t make you a bad person, and anyone who genuinely wants the best for you should agree. Hopefully you can all learn from my mistakes and remain panic attack free! 😉

Now, while I’m fully committed to saying no more often, I’m certain it’s not going to be easy. So tell me, how do you guys go about saying no politely? Let’s help each other out by continuing this conversation in the comments.

Xx, Meach

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