It’s smoother sometimes to put yourself out than to make waves when you refuse another’s request. “Come to my party/event/sausage sizzle” is sometimes the last thing you want to put in your week and yet we regularly find it difficult to make our own needs met at these moments. Maybe you’re busy or tired or would rather be home in the jammies and ugg boots that night. Maybe you have some self-care that could take place then. Maybe martinis and singing Willie Nelson covers just doesn’t float your boat.
Yet a typical candidate for my Speak Up Program will rationalise in this way: “Oh it’s only three hours out of my life; sounds like they need me, I don’t want to disappoint them, I might find it interesting/useful/fun.” Except you know in your heart it’s not your preferred use of your time.
Nevertheless you hear “Oh great, fine, yes” coming out of your mouth before you’ve even taken time to fully process it. Then, because you’re the type who’s commitment is strong, your fulfill your diary entry even though you most likely will spend the intervening time playing with the idea of escaping that duty and experiencing the frustration that you knee-jerked out an agreement yet again.
There is hope for you. There are methods for changing your habits. Together we can wean you from your ‘pleasing’ behavior and learn to start pleasing yourself first. It is a wonderful feeling.
Saying ‘no’ to small things may flex your muscles for when you seriously need to really reject something big, for your own safety or peace of mind.
Try this series of actions next time you’re in this position. Then keep practising.
Step 1 – Ask for time You aren’t usually forced to answer yes or no immediately. You really aren’t. Take a breather to ponder what you really want and how to word your answer.
Before you choose say ‘I’ll call you back on that’ or ‘let me look in my diary’. Take that pause to fully come into your body and ask yourself what you want.
Step 2 – Find out what you want Sometimes this is not as clear-cut as you might expect. It might take longer than you think to work out what choice would make you happiest. If you have trouble making a choice, you can always use my decision-making tool over at Flourisheer. Contact me to set up a 30 minute session to get you clear.
Step 3 – Yes with provisos If it’s a yes, then let them know. Consider making this work for you here, also. Instead of acting like a wuss, if that’s been your modus operandi, say: “I can come but I won’t be able to bring food this time.” “I’d love to be there and I can make it after my basketball game ends at 8.30.”
Step 4 – No with integrity If it’s no, don’t choose to fib as an excuse. You don’t even need to find a reason for why you can’t show up. Those options are common and most people can sense their fakeness. It will stop you feeling good about your own assertiveness and take away a lot of the great energy you’ll create by making YOUR choice stick.
Say no. “I’m not coming, thank you for asking.” Calmly, firmly.
Keep it brief so you don’t verbose yourself into fumbles and mumbles.
You can still be gracious – “Look another time I’ll take part but this month it’s a no from me.” If that’s so, that is. If this offer is really something you’ll never want to do in your right mind try, “It’s not really my cup of tea/it’s not where my interests lie/it’s not for me.” That may stop further importuning if you want to make it that clear-cut.
And why not? What works for you is bound to work best for your asker too, ultimately. When you think about it, giving them the space to find those who really want to be involved means everyone has more fun. Including you.
Step 5 – Celebrate Now, congratulate yourself on determining how you want to spend your precious, wild, only life for those hours that you have freed up.
And for letting go of all that angst around “should” and “I wish I’d said something else” that would have continued to plague you if you’d handled things less effectively. Hooray!
The ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ email address that I’ve used for some years is now defunct. If you’ve been using that for me, please delete it and switch to: email@example.com so we can keep in touch. I’d hate to lose you.
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I’m keen to hear your stories of how you refrained from speaking up, how you spoke up about something important and how this fits into your life now. Write them on my Facebook Flourisheer page.
See the stories already there.