The Art of Saying "No"
Do you feel overcommitted, spread thin, and run down? We often see clients who experience these emotions on a daily basis. While consistent self-care rituals are important to overcoming the pressure you might feel from having a packed schedule and long to-do list, the impact of “saying no” in your life is an important part of managing this overwhelmed feeling long-term. The art of “saying no” can contribute to your life in these positive ways:
Time is a fixed variable in life. Therefore, the number of things you commit to has to change for you to reclaim time and balance. This begins with healthy boundaries and a clear sense of priorities. Making a list of your top areas of focus in life might be a good place to start getting some clarity into what activities and commitments you should agree to and which could be cut from your agenda. For instance, if health and wellness is a top focus in your life right now, a place to “say no” might be late-night social outings with friends that result in drinking and less sleep. Reclaiming time starts with understanding what you’d like to cultivate in your life and making the right decisions to support that vision.
Oftentimes when life gets overwhelming, the feeling of overcommitment sneaks up on you in an almost unconscious way. Schedules are fuller than you realize overtime and life feels like it’s bursting at the seams. Having a practice that helps cultivate awareness of your own capacity can help you to understand when to say no. Perhaps it’s a meditation early in the morning, or journalling before bed, as this built-in time for reflection and awareness can be very powerful in allowing you to be proactive about limits in your life – and help you learn when and how to say no. This time of feedback and listening to self is also a time to check in about what you are already committed to. Ask yourself whether the activities on your calendar are fueling or draining you and adjust your commitments accordingly.
“Saying no” and creating boundaries isn’t just for those who feel overcommitted. The art of “saying no” might relate to boundaries around physical contact and your body. Keeping your space sacred and only inviting in welcome physical contact is an important component of both “saying no” and maintaining sacred personal boundaries. Learning to say, “no” related to your body might mean saying no to peer pressure or sexual pressure, especially in romantic relationships. Being clear about what is welcome physical attention and what doesn’t feel in alignment with your desires means responding clearly both verbally and with your body language when others have crossed the line as to what feels acceptable.
Oftentimes, clients share that “saying no” is accompanied by feelings of guilt. There is a fear that declining social invitations or setting strong boundaries will hurt the feelings of others. What we agree to and accept impacts our energy and well-being, and therefore it’s extremely important to carefully select what you will allow and understand how it aligns and supports your ultimate life goals and dreams. Instead of looking at unwanted invitations and your need to say no with a feeling of guilt, reframe the experience into an opportunity to say, “yes” to self-care and self-respect by “saying no’ to something that doesn’t inspire you. Instead, free up time for the things that do fuel you – mind, body, and spirit. Be intentional about how you’ll fill your fixed time.
To talk further about the role of setting boundaries and “saying no” in your life to reclaim time and happiness, contact the team of therapists at Center for Shared Insight to learn more.