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Yes, it’s hard to say no, for many of us, conditioned as we are to indulge most requests. Here’s how saying no frees up your life.
For years, I was renowned as someone who would step forward and gladly make time without a sigh for almost everything, especially when it came to serving others. I proudly carried this role all through school and college until this big realisation dawned upon me. For years, I believed, saying “no” meant I would disappoint a good friend or someone I really respected.
But somewhere along the way I noticed I wasn’t leading my life the way I wished. Instead, I seemed to have created a network that was a strange combination of meeting the expectations of others, what I thought I should be doing, and some of what I wanted to do. The result? I had a jammed routine that left me overwhelmed and unfulfilled.
It took a long while, I admit but I finally learned the art of saying no. Saying ‘no’ meant I was no longer going around to fulfill everyone else’s needs and created more space for what I really wanted to do. I started to manage my time more around my own needs and interests without disappointing anyone and that’s what really matters.
What happened? I became a lot happier. And guess what? I hardly disappointed anyone.
It’s no wonder a lot of us find it hard to say ‘no.’
From a young age, we are compelled to say ‘yes.’ We said yes probably hundreds of times to graduate from high school and then get into college. We said yes to find work. We said yes to get a promotion. We said yes to keep our peers or maybe we just say yes because it feels better to help someone, and the list goes on….
And that’s not all. The pressure to say yes doesn’t just come because people around us say so. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves. At work, we say yes because we compare ourselves to others who seem to perform better. Outside of work, we say yes because we feel guilty we just aren’t doing enough to spend time with family or friends. The result? When people ask us for our time, we are once again heavily conditioned to say “yes”.
Inculcating the little word ‘no’ into your life can be incredibly life-changing. Turning some things down will mean you can now open your doors to things that matter most to you. Do you feel it’s an obligation to say yes and worry that saying no will reflect poorly on your personality?
Let’s face it. It is hard to say no. Setting boundaries around your time especially when you haven’t done it much in the past will feel awkward.
Remember that you are the only one who understands the demands of your time. Think about it. Who else knows about all the workload you have? No one. Only you are at the center of all these requests and the only one who understands how much space can fix into your limited time.
Saying ‘no’ means saying ‘yes’ to your priorities now. When we decide not to do something, it means we can compensate for it with something that can create meaning. You have a unique opportunity to decide how to utilise your precious time.
What do you have to lose? Beginning right now can change how you respond to requests for your time. When the request comes in, take yourself off that zone where you might normally say yes. Use the request as a chalk to draw a healthy boundary around your time. Pay attention to when you place certain demands on yourself. If you are the one placing the demand on yourself, try to evaluate where the demand is coming from?
Try it now. Say no to a friend who continues to take advantage of your goodwill. Or, draw a line with a workaholic colleague and tell them you will complete the project but not by working all weekend long.
And yes, when people tell you that you don’t spend enough time for them…. just say ‘preference and priorities of people keep changing over the course of time’….you’ll find yourself much happier.
Image via Unsplash
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I am Iman Shakeel - an impulsive writer and a voracious reader who fuels her daily
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