No is not merely a word, it’s a complete sentence. Nothing needs to be added to it. Yet many of us struggle to say no. We wrap ourselves around in convoluted explanations, simply because we find it difficult to say no. Author Susan Gregg says this:
For every yes, there is a no. Say no to who you’re not, and yes to who you truly are. Here are ten things to say no to this and every year because you love yourself, and because you’re free to choose.
1. Peer pressure
Peer pressure doesn’t end when you’re no longer a child. It carries on into adulthood and it is no more welcome now than when you were a child. To help you say no to unwanted peer pressure, first acknowledge that you are being asked to do something that is not compatible with who you are or who you wish to be. Then, simply say “no” or, if you prefer, exchange “no” for “don’t” for example, “I don’t criticise co-workers who aren’t present.”
2. Your unrelenting self-criticism
Continuous self-criticism invariably leads to anxiety and unhappiness. Constantly being on your own back is unhelpful because at the root of it is criticism for being who you are. All aspects of your personality – including your flaws – make up who you are. You’re supposed to be you, not someone else. Once you accept this, there will be little for your inner critic to criticise.
3. People who undermine you
Studies have shown that surrounding yourself with people who believe in you and your ideas will boost your confidence. It’s the self-fulfilling prophecy effect: if people believe you are smart and intelligent, they will treat you as such.
4. Negative people
You may have people in your life who discredit your dreams and seem bent on blowing out your inner flame with their view of what you can achieve. Don’t allow someone else’s negativity to dictate who you are; if you accept their judgments as true, you will at some point lose track of where their opinion ends and where your reality starts.
Manipulators will constantly prioritise their own needs over yours; they will insist that you treat their needs as superior because they believe they are superior. Rarely will these people help you in your time of need. Their superiority is emphatically not your problem.
Resolve to become an optimist. Study after study has shown that optimists lead happier and more successful lives. Research has also shown that optimists are more resilient than pessimists, and lead healthier lives.
7. Neglecting your health
Most of us know the benefits of good health, but still don’t lead a healthy lifestyle. Develop healthy habits and you’ll reap the rewards, not least boosting your chances of improved longevity.
8. Fear of failure
Develop a ‘growth mindset’ and choose to see failure as a mandatory aspect of every worthwhile endeavour. Determine to learn from each mistake when you make them – because you will make them.
9. Fear of expressing yourself
Certain cognitive biases, such as the ‘bandwagon effect,’ lead to people thinking or doing things that others are thinking or doing because of a desire to conform. Such conformity squashes creativity and individuality, particularly when there’s no obligation to conform.
10. Always saying yes
If you’re always saying yes, you’re not exercising your freedom to say no to all the above.
When you learn to say no to the wrong things in your life, you’ll experience the freedom of being truly yourself. You’ll develop greater confidence and discover the beauty of a life well lived. But it’s only possible if you start saying no.