For many women, life consists of making everyone around us happy. We support our friends in times of need; we take care of our spouse and children; we work and volunteer our time. Many women feel obligated to be liked, helpful and friendly. These traits are far from negative or undesirable, but yet there is a necessary balance of helping others and serving our self that women must learn. To achieve this, we must first re-learn the meaning of the word “No.”
Learning to say no to a request is part of learning to create healthy boundaries with others. As people pleasers, saying no seems rude, selfish and hurtful. This way of thinking triggers guilt and anxiety, and often leads us to agree to things that are harmful and destructive to our wellness and mental health.
If the request does not motivate you to reach your above goals, the next step is to evaluate the situation. Some requests are just neutral, neither good nor bad. They may not help you reach your set priorities but they won’t distract from them either. Often times these are considered good will gestures. In this circumstance the best thing to do is evaluate if you have the free time available without causing you any mental or emotional distress. Sometimes these situations can be negotiable and you may find that you can be helpful in much smaller ways that does not bog you down.
Brookhaven Retreat encourages women to re-establish self-empowering attitudes. During recovery from many mental health and substance abuse issues including borderline personality disorder, bipolar disorder and depression, women are taught that by caring and respecting their needs first they can recreate an enjoyable life that fosters mental and emotional health. Here are a few thoughts that may help you decide when you should say “yes” or “no”:
Make a list: Create a list of what is important to you at this moment in your life. Maybe it is your sobriety, reconnecting with friends and family, furthering your career or nurturing new hobbies. This list will help you decide when saying yes is beneficial to you.
Slow it down: Breaking the “yes” habit is uncomfortable. It takes becoming more aware of this embedded habit. If someone asks you to do something, your automatic response is probably going to be to immediately say yes. Instead, try slowing your response down and allow yourself to process the information first before committing to a definite answer.
Practice saying “No”: There are a thousand different ways to say no. Many people offer long-winded excuses that are not necessary, and by doing so they feel more anxiety and get more flustered. Keep it short and polite, yet firm.