If you’re feeling pulled in too many directions, or dealing with an overload of drama, you may need to redraw some boundaries. And that starts with learning to say the word NO.
Perhaps it’s our upbringing–the subversive, subliminal, and even sometimes overt messaging–that as girls and women we should place everyone’s demands above our own.
when a yes is necessary
As mamas, more times than not, our children’s needs rise high above what we might desire.
You want to get eight hours of sleep; your son needs to be sick all night. You’re not going to say to him, “Oh NO dear, you must clean up yourself and not bother mama during her beauty sleep.”
That’s not the NO I’m talking about here. . .where I see so many women get tripped up is when the requests come from outside the family unit.
Not only do you give away your precious energy to others people’s commitments, you usually have nothing in reserve for you, and honestly, you deserve more than the fumes in the reserve tank.
Your family needs you on full.
Not on empty, not on fumes.
If you say YES to all the outside drama, when it comes time to take care of your family unit (or you), you end up going into a deficit of energy. That deficit of energy leads to more stress and eventually you can get sick.
when a no is warranted
Already tired, you stayed up until 1 a.m. to finish PTA board minutes for the meeting the next night. (Because they asked you to volunteer and you didn’t feel like you could say no.) You grumbled the whole time you were collating the data since you didn’t really want to be PTA secretary in the first place.
Finally, you finished and just as you hunker down for some much-needed sleep, you hear the first retch of the night from your kid’s bedroom.
Now you’re up every half-hour to hour to take care of yucky business. When the morning finally rolls around you are wiped–in an energy deficit–and not necessarily because you were up all night to care for your kid. That certainly didn’t help your energy stores.
The true energy drain came from a task you dreaded doing because you couldn’t figure out how to say NO in the first place.
reasons why we say yes instead of no
Look at some of the reasons why you might say YES to a request instead of NO:
“I don’t want to hurt her feelings.”
“It’s for a good cause.”
“I feel guilty.”
Or the dreaded, “I don’t want them to think I’m a b*tch.”
Think back to the last time you said YES because you’d feel guilty for saying NO. I’m guessing you don’t have to think back too far.
Saying YES when you want to say NO is not about being nice. It’s about giving away your energy and power; it’s smudging the lines of your boundaries.
You know you want to say NO more, but you’re not sure how to do it.
how to say no and not be a b*tch
Women suffer from double standards in just about every part of our lives. If we stand up for ourselves (or our kids), choose not to back down, have a strong opinion, or get something done, we’re too aggressive.
And if we’re too aggressive, too opinionated, too assertive, we’re bitches.
But when your head hits the pillow at night, you need to ask yourself why you care if someone thinks you’re a bitch–especially when you hardly interact with that person. Like the once a month meetings or passing each other in the car pool lane.
I can count on both hands the number of times I’ve been called a bitch.
🤣 Not because I haven’t been called a bitch more than 10 times. . .I’m sure I’ve been called a bitch a thousand times.
I simply don’t “hear it” anymore. What two people say about me behind my back has no bearing to what I know about me, my life, and how it’s currently working.
(Plus I try really hard not to call other women bitches either. It’s not cool to bring other women down, even if you don’t agree with their methods or philosophy. Let’s agree to stop that right now, mmm’k?)
You have to find a way to stop worrying because someone might call you a bitch–behind your back, no less–for saying NO.
it's hard to say no at first
There’s no magic trick or secret way of delivering it. Like most concepts I teach it takes practice before it feels comfortable.
Repeat after me, “NO.”
Go on. . .you can do it!
Try again. “NO.”
Say it loud!
Notice I said practice.
The first time you say it, it will feel like swallowing a frog. But only for a few seconds. The relief and joy that floods your body after you say NO will overshadow the initial froggy feeling. When you’re staring down the frog, remember why you’re saying NO.
no is a complete sentence
In addition to saying NO to the requests that you truly want to say NO to, you will also stay mum after you’ve said NO.
No is a complete sentence.
There’s no need to attach any excuses to your solid NO. You don’t need to justify your answer. Unless you want to be honest and tell them, “No. Because I don’t want to,” then everything else is a white lie, superfluous, unnecessary.
Another reason for a naked NO: the more you drag it out, giving dumb excuses (that the other person knows are white lies), the more opportunity you give the other person to guilt you into saying YES. The first few people you decline will work hard to change your mind.
Stand strong (and silent) and keep that frog down. And when you’ve learned to say no, investigate other ways you can practice self-care.