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  • Writer's pictureGary

How To Say No To Others (Work-Life Balance Series: Part 2)

How often do you say "Yes" to your customers or employer when in the dark recesses of your gut you really feel, "No"?

How often do you stay late, start early, or put other people before yourself? Are you a "people pleaser," "overachiever," "caretaker," or "hard worker"?

Saying "No" isn't easy for most of us. As children, we were taught to sacrifice our desires, behave, and obey. Some of us were punished for saying "No."

Most of us learned that if we say "Yes" to others, they will like us! We found that the more we make others happy, the less likely they are to hurt us and the more likely they are to befriend us. And let's face it- it only makes sense to avoid pain and pursue pleasure!

The problem is not being generous, working hard, or being of service to others. Not at all. But when you start to sacrifice your needs so much that it hurts your health, relationships, or happiness, then it's time to get real. By saying "Yes" so much to others, you are saying "No" to yourself!

At first, it isn't obvious that your people pleasing is simultaneously self-sabotaging. Things generally get pretty bad, really, before you start to catch on. Especially when you try to say "Yes" to yourself but find you cannot. It can get really, really dark. You begin to see how much you've sold your soul to making sure everyone but you is ok.

Well, that's not ok.

In my experience, the more replenished and happy I am, the more effectively I serve others. By saying "Yes" to myself, I am actually MORE capable of helping others WITHOUT draining myself.

The way to improve your "No" to others is to improve your "Yes" to yourself. This may sound weird. Or selfish. Those judgments of "weird" and "selfish" keep the cycle going. You gotta knock it off! Until you start saying "Yes" to yourself, you are going to continue to feel drained, overextended, used and abused, victimized, unworthy, or small.

You can say "Yes" to yourself AND feel energized, balanced, powerful, and loved!

Don't believe me? Ok, continue as you were. But don't you at least want to try?

"Ok, ok, but how do I say 'Yes' to myself when my habit is to say, 'No'?"

In my work with clients, we practice a thing called "Toward and Away," an exercise where they get to command me to move closer or farther away. It teaches them how to bullride the discomfort of telling someone "No". It increases their sensitivity to discerning when something or someone is or is not desirable. It teaches them how to transfer that feeling into a self-serving action. It shows them how much personal space feels best and how to invite and expel someone to and from that space.

The Four Steps To "No" Mastery:

First, feel your "No." Notice the sensations in your gut, throat, and chest when "No" rises in your body.

Second, trust your "No." Listen to those sensations. They are here to HELP you. The body does not lie.

Third, overcome fears of rejection and failure. It isn't true that every time we say "No" to someone, they won't like us or we will somehow lose out. If they do, are they worth it? If you lose out this time, so what! Will Smith gave this advice: "Fail early, fail often, fail forward."

Fourth, assertively express your "No." It may start as a squeak or a whisper. Practice until you roar!

Every "No" to one thing is a "Yes" to another. Let that "Yes" be YOU! Productivity, career success, and healthy relationships DO NOT have to come at the expense of YOU! Try yourself out- you might like it.

Sound like you? You might be interested in joining my Work/Life Balance group, starting January 8th. Click here for details!

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