Saying “no”. I swear, sometimes, that is the hardest thing to do. It got worse when I became a mom and got involved in mom-like things. While I still practice the art of saying “no” on a regular basis, every once in a while, I forget three facts I learned long ago and slip up. For the most part, though, I can deliver a solid “no” without regrets.
What are those facts? Glad you asked!
- (This one is targeting mom-life, mostly because that’s what I know. But the reality is, it can fit a number of situations.) You aren’t doing anyone any favors by stretching yourself too thin. I get it; you’re a supermom. You’re president of the PTO, work a full-time job, volunteer at all the events and make your child a healthy lunch and breakfast every day. All the while, looking fabulous. While I have met a few actual supermoms in the past, under most circumstances, the strain of everything they are doing shows more than they think. It often comes out in the form of martyrdom, honestly. You know the “I have to do it because no one else will.” The reality is, if it’s worth being done, someone else always steps up. There is always a supermom in training waiting in the wings for their chance. The problem with these situations is, more often than not, those people are so scattered and so stretched thin they can not effectively lead. Instead of doling out tasks, they take it all on themselves because things are too hectic in their lives to plan ahead. As a matter of fact, I just said that to someone yesterday because, despite my ability to say no, I still find myself pulled in 100 different directions. It’s often just easier for me to take care of it myself when I can. The downside to this: I can’t complain when no one helps me. There’s always a group of people who are willing to help but can’t take the lead who are never asked to help with specific things. I’ve been one of those people. I’ve also been in the situation where I was “leading” something and failed to ask those people for help. In nearly every instance it was because I was stretched too thin and failed at planning ahead. I didn’t do anyone any favors those times – not me, not my family and definitely not the other people. Sometimes things happen in our lives that prevent us from saying “no”. When those times happen, it’s okay to say “no” to the other things, regardless of what other people are doing.
- If it isn’t something you would enjoy, then you are just going to bring everyone else down. I am a big proponent of doing new things. I am also a grown woman who knows what I do and do not like to do. Sure, I can try to throw on the fake smile every now and again but I was also cursed/blessed with a magic mirror face. It doesn’t matter how much I try to pretend I am having a good time, you’re going to know the truth. It’s not necessarily that I make a scene or anything. I’m not one of those people. But you’re going to see it all over my face. I shared the meme below not long ago and I meant it. Unless I am needed for a particular reason, life is too short to be wasting a lot of time on things you don’t enjoy. It’s okay to say “no” because you don’t like something. If you find that you want to say “no” to everything your friends do, then maybe it’s time to reevaluate your life and your friends to see if you are even in the right “tribe”. That happens sometimes. You get thrust into a group where you don’t really fit by circumstance. Nothing says you have to stay there. It’s a big, big world out there. Your people exist in it. You just have to find them.
- Finally, it’s okay to say “no”. It’s that simple. No one else, except maybe your closest family and friends, know what is really happening in your life. And, guess what, you don’t owe them an explanation. Though, I do still struggle with that last part myself. Pesky mom guilt. In the end though, “no” is a valid response all by its lonesome. Though how you say “no” is important. More on that later.
Now, with all that being said, the downside to being comfortable with saying “no” is being comfortable with saying “no”. As stated, I am a grown woman, so I also understand there are times that I have to step up, put on my “big girl panties” so to speak and handle life. Yes, I would much prefer lounging on my couch and binge-watching Netflix (which I haven’t done in so long that I feel no guilt at this point in my life for saying “no” to things), but we can’t always do that. It is important to get involved where you can with your child’s activities and to help raise money for their organizations. It is important to volunteer in your community. It is important to go out with your friends and do social things. If you say “no” too often, people will just stop asking. I know this. I’ve been there. So, unless you just have to decline the invite because of whatever is going on in your life, saying yes every once in a while, is just as important as saying “no”.
As stated above, how you say “no” is also important. Here are a few examples of ways you can say “no” depending on the situation with helpful examples readily available on the world wide web.
Michelle’s list of “no” examples:
For when you really do want to go/do it but you just can’t for some reason. Especially if you want to be asked again. It often includes a brief explanation about why you can’t. (I can’t because I’d rather bingewatch Netflix is not an appropriate excuse in this situation.)
When you just don’t wanna and you’re not really needed but you don’t really have a personal relationship with the person.
When you just don’t wanna and the other person understands you and loves you anyway.
When you just don’t wanna and you want it made clear you don’t wanna ever.
This should be saved for those moments where you really hate the idea of doing it but know, if it is decided it is happening, you’re probably going to do it anyway. You know, like selling out of those soul-crushing fundraiser catalogs.
This one should be used only in extreme situations. I, myself, have never used this one. It will guarantee you will never be asked again and, there is a good chance people will start talking about your mental health. So use wisely.
So that’s it. A 1,000 + word blog post on saying “no”. (a.k.a. Michelle is procrastinating writing her novel again.)
Have a great day all. And may you choose your “no”s wisely.
Michelle Leigh Miller is an independently published author, freelance writer, and blogger in Southeastern Ohio. Basically, she is just writing words.