Hello and welcome back to The Post-It Note! Last time we talked about Creating and Sticking to Boundaries, and so many people resonated with that post and found it helpful to challenge themselves to keep the boundaries they set. Today I want to partner up my previous post by talking about exercising your “no” and finding your power there. But before I get into that, can I just talk about this week’s full moon? I personally feel like things got kind of weird.
I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I felt that people were just a little higher strung than normal. I personally had to do a little bit of soul searching and ask myself a few questions, the first was what is the next step for The Post-It Note? The other was a bit more personal, I’ve been straddled with a lot of debt recently, some of it is old and some of it is new and I’m at a place where I can no longer hold on to any of it so I have to figure out how to increase my income so I can put some money away for savings and also aggressively pay off my debt.
I’m pretty sure that I can’t reduce my expenses at this time, so I think the best thing I can do is increase how much money I bring in, by either getting a part time job, or doing freelance work. If you guys have any ideas for freelancing or where to find good opportunities, please let me know in either the comments below, or an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
So, exercising your no. What does that even mean?
Exercising your no is thinking deeply about a situation and asking yourself some questions to see how beneficial a yes or no will be to you, we will get into this in a moment. You should exercise this action because saying no for a lot of people is hard. Most people genuinely want to help in anyway they can so a yes often comes naturally, or even if they find that they don’t want to help, a yes is much less confrontational than a no and will be less messy to deal with.
Why is it beneficial to say no?
Well the first and I think the most important reason to say no is that you keep the power to be in control of your own life. And I think I should take a moment to say that this article is not about not helping out in situations that you care about. It’s about freeing up your time and your energy to focus more on the things that you do truly care about.
You also build confidence to say no more often because let’s be honest. The first time that you say no and really mean it, is so difficult. Sometimes the words might feel trapped in your mouth and you may have even blurted out an awkward kind of agreement when all you really wanted to say was hell no!
You also protect yourself from doing too much. Most of us have a lot of things that we want to do, and very little time to do it. By continuing to say yes and agree to things that only stand in the way or prevent us from doing things that we actually want to do all together is draining.
Also, by freeing up more of your time, you will be available to more opportunities that you didn’t have time for because you were too busy doing things that didn’t make you happy or benefit you at all.
I’m going to give two examples of situations where most people would want to say no, but might actually say yes and end up miserable because of it.
This first example is very small and may be considered to not be a huge deal but beware, too many of these will suck up all your time presently and in the future.
A good friend of yours will be out of town for a week and needs someone to watch her cats. Naturally she comes to you and asks, and you slightly panic a bit because you actually hate cats, you’re allergic and also she lives so far out of the way from not only where you live, but also where you might commute for anything. Your friend says she is in a tight spot and leaves tomorrow. She also generously offers to pay you with a bottle of wine, if at all.
There are a few things that you can do here. You can say yes. Your friend will be happy and so will her cats. You, however, will be miserable.
You can halfway say yes and no, by saying that you can’t do it, but you’d be willing to help her find an alternative for pet sitting. If you have the time to do this, why not, but also know that although you love your friend, her cats are her responsibility and she should be able to make arrangements for animal boarding without you.
You can lie. “I would love to pet sit Sparkles, but I have this thing that I promised that I would do and I just can’t get out of it!” I wouldn’t recommend this, it is the coward’s way out and also you’ve lied to your friend and if she ever brings it up in the future, you will have to devise another lie and possibly another. This way robs you of your energy and you might as well just say yes, you’re exerting the same amount of time and energy, plus adding on a layer of anxiety that you might be found out.
You can simply say no. Be honest and say that “you know what, I’m super allergic to cats and it would be really difficult for me to get out there.” Chances are, she will live, and the world will go on. Plus, you don’t have to feel guilty about your decision because it was the right one for you.
Our second example, this one is a little more challenging and may take some more practice and confidence building before you’re comfortable getting to your no.
You’re at work and a coworker who you are friendly with needs to leave work early but for whatever reason decides that she doesn’t want to let your boss know that she is leaving a few hours earlier. She instead asks if you will please cover for her.
Now there are some serious warning bells ringing in your head, you don’t want to do this and you’re uncomfortable doing this. You want to say no and just as you are gathering the strength, your coworker adds that “they would do it for you and they owe you one.” Against all better judgement, you say yes because you don’t want to make your workplace uncomfortable.
There are certain situations where you need to just say no. Period and point blank. This would be one of those situations. Trust me, when your boss asks around and you do your best to cover for her, you will both get found out. There is no legitimate reason why your adult coworker could not let her boss know what is going on and ask to leave early. Together you have both now made you responsible and an accomplice to shirking her work responsibilities.
Work situations are always a bit challenging because you work closely with these people and have to see them and talk to them every day, no one wants to cause friction at work, but you should know that in the above situation and other’s like it, it is not your responsibility to keep the peace by jeopardizing your workplace .
Seriously, say no and deal with the evil eye for a few days. It is a small price to pay for keeping your power and maintaining your job security.
You can apply this practice to every aspect of your life, from personal relationships to work life to dealing with finances and your romantic life. Remember, getting the first no out is the hardest part, and once you do, you can then weigh the pros and cons to each situation and ask yourself, how does this benefit me? Will it cause me stress or harm to agree to this? And then make your decision based on that.
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