When was the last time you said “no” to a loved one, friend, or teammate? Why is it that many of us tend to experience guilt when declining a request or favor? Why do we fear letting others down when prioritizing ourselves? Why do we often strive to please everyone and put their needs before ours?
Admittedly, it took me a considerable amount of time to unlearn these tendencies. Having lived for over two decades, I was ingrained with the habit of being a “yes” person. Need extra cash? I’m here to help. Require assistance with tasks entirely unrelated to my main role? Count me in.
While saying “yes” to all these situations led to numerous mistakes and valuable lessons, I eventually realized that I was often neglecting my own interests in favor of others. Only when exhaustion and burnout took their toll did I begin to understand the value of saying “no” — often when my physical health was already suffering.
Recently, I’ve managed to find my own voice amid the vastness around me. I’ve learned to stand independently and embrace my true self.
However, please note that the process of establishing boundaries for the sake of my personal well-being hasn’t been an overnight transformation. I still find it challenging up until today but I can say that I’ve been better at handling it compared to a few years back.
In a recent workshop, I gained some practical insights that can be applied to anyone’s life:
- Recognize Your Assertive Rights: Acknowledge the basic assertive rights we all possess. These include being treated with respect, expressing our emotions and values, and the right to make mistakes.
- Express Emotions Openly: Confront your emotions and communicate them verbally to others. Waiting until emotions boil over can inadvertently hurt others’ feelings. It’s important to express yourself constructively.
- Master the Broken Record Technique: A personal favorite, this technique involves reiterating your standpoint calmly but persuasively. Stick to your message while ensuring it remains compelling, logical, and convincing.
In the process of learning these techniques, there are certain habits we need to unlearn:
- The Art of Honest Expression: While it’s commonly said that the truth hurts, conveying the truth beautifully can soften its impact. There’s no need for lies. Honesty, openness, and directness should be our guiding principles in communication.
- Thoughtful Responses: Instead of relying on knee-jerk reactions, pause and reflect before responding. There are multiple approaches to tackling challenging situations, and a thoughtful response can make all the difference.
- Saying “no” and remaining friends: We can confidently say “no” and maintain healthy relationships. It’s entirely possible to achieve a “win-win” scenario, where our needs are respected alongside others.
Ultimately, by establishing boundaries and embracing the power of “no,” we prioritize our well-being and contribute to more genuine and fulfilling connections.