How To Say No Without Feeling Guilty
We’re now in the silly season, where there are a lot of obligations and commitments. So there’s lots of anxiety around saying “Yes” and “No”.
We have a number of underlying beliefs around saying No and Yes. The martyr in us will say Yes to everyone and everything, feeling burnt out, sick and exhausted at the end. They equate saying Yes with approval seeking and love. So it may not even be the commitment they are saying yes to, but the approval seeking. There may also be the belief that if they don’t say Yes they will be abandoned and left out.
This year is the first year that I have consciously chosen to say No to attending my family’s xmas function. So it’s a very emotional time of year for me, for a lot of reasons. Normally I would get sick in order to say No.
I felt guilty that I wasn’t just playing along and showing up, that my No was hurting people. But for various reasons I didn’t want to attend.
The turnaround for me to not feel guilty, was that I was saying Yes, I was saying Yes to myself. I was saying Yes to my self care. I was honouring my commitment to myself to take extreme self care this year.
I love that book title by Robin Posin – “Go Only As Fast As Your Slowest Parts Want To Go”, and that’s exactly how I feel at this time of year. I’m on an inward journey this year and I’ve pulled away from certain people, and I don’t need to speed up in order to appear “normal”, for fear of being left out in the cold.
The Yes for Others
If people get offended by me saying No, what they in turn can do is see what they are saying Yes to, what other options do they have because I say No? Seeing this may open up possibilities and options they hadn’t seen before.
The Yes In Procrastination
There’s another angle to this dualism that we tend to beat ourselves up about – procrastination. We are saying No to doing a task right now, but what are we saying Yes to? Perhaps its timing, perhaps we are tired, perhaps parts of us are scared to face the task and are building momentum and support to reach the start line.
How much more gentle does it feel to see that we are actually saying Yes to ourselves, and we can take that gentleness of the “Yes”, and apply it to the task we were avoiding.
What is your relationship to saying “No”?