Every day, it seems, somebody wants our help. We may be approached by family, friends, school, the workplace or any number of organizations or interest groups. Many of us feel obligated to say “yes” straight away, often to our detriment. We can end up taking on too much work, or find ourselves getting involved with someone’s complex personal issues.
For our mental well-being, we need to be able to say “no” occasionally without guilt or regret. Here are some simple strategies that should make it easier to do so.
Just say no
The best and quickest way is a simple “no.” Don’t get bogged down explaining why you can’t do the task. If you say “I’d love to, but…” when you’d rather not, then extra pressure could be put on you to change your mind. There is nothing worse than having to undertake a task under duress. This can easily lead you to be anxious, stressed or even clinically depressed. Be aware of your abilities and set your limits accordingly.
No rash decisions
It’s always a good idea not to get rushed into making an immediate decision. Why not say, “Let me think about that, and I’ll get back to you.” This gives you time to make a careful and considered assessment of the request. If you do decide to go ahead and help, that’s fine. If you decide not to help, that’s also fine. You’ll need to make your choice very clear and final to the person or group concerned.
Don’t feel guilty
Never let yourself feel guilty for making a “no” decision. You are more than entitled to the reasons why you can’t help. You may be too busy and can’t take anything else on, or you wouldn’t be comfortable doing the request asked of you. Maybe you desperately need some “me time,” or it can be as simple as you just don’t want to do what’s being asked. In that case and to remove any confusion, always be kind yet firm when declining, so everyone knows exactly where you stand on the matter.
Give no f*cks!
It’s great to be needed, but occasionally your involvement is not possible. If the person asking for your help is offended by your decision, that’s their choice and not your responsibility. Don’t let their displeasure at being told “no” weaken your resolve.
Just don’t be surprised one day if someone says “no” to your request for help. Like you, they probably have an excellent reason to do so! – Eccentric Aunt