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A word so easy for a toddler to say about absolutely everything and a word so difficult for adults to say to other adults. I think we could learn a lot if we channeled our inner toddler and said “No” a little more and asked questions later.
If you haven’t been around a toddler lately let me paint you a picture of how it goes.
Do you want cereal? No.
Do you want eggs? No.
Do you want pancakes? No.
Wait a few minutes and they will want all or at least one of those things. There immediate response to almost any question is “No,” followed by some thinking and then a decision.
Do you want to go outside? No.
Then they proceed to get their coat and shoes and wait at the back door.
Huh, what is happening? I’m not a child development expert, but I know we can learn a little something from the toddler mantra. Say no first, it buys you time to make your real decision.
Say no first, it buys you time to make your real decision.
Somewhere as we get older we start saying yes all the time and then realizing later that we shouldn’t have said yes and we can’t get out of whatever we’ve gotten into.
If you are like me (the former me) you would end up with a schedule full of events and commitments, many of which you didn’t even want to be doing. You would ask yourself how you got there and realize it’s because you said, “yes.” It’s because you ALWAYS say yes.
The events that I went to socially and I helped out with were often times fun and worthwhile events, but they weren’t how I wanted or needed to be spending my time.
I was not in charge of my time I was allowing others to dictate how I spent my time.
It was no one’s fault but my own and I needed to take back control of my time. I needed to learn to say no and be okay saying no.
It was a short time after Amelia’s birth that I started to consciously make the decision to say “no” more. Life had gotten busier and my time became more important. My priorities shifted further and I started to realize that the reason I had said yes so many times before was because I felt obligated too. I felt guilty. I was always the sucker who would volunteer when no one else would because I felt bad for the person looking for help.
I’ve gotten even better at saying no and being choosier with how I spend my time now that I am working on my blogging business.
I am much more protective of my time now.
When I am asked to do things I usually tell people I will need to get back to them, which is absolutely true. This also allows me to not make a decision on the spot. I can think through what it is I am being asked to do and whether it aligns with my priorities.
Deciding that you want to take back your time and say “no” more is the first step, but there is an art to how to say no as well.
Polite ways to say no
- No, thank you. An age old response your mom and dad taught you way back when you were just a kid.
- I really appreciate you thinking of me, but unfortunately I just don’t have the time to commit to that.
- That sounds like a great idea. Let me check our calendar and get back to you.
- That is so thoughtful that you want to include me, but I am already doing X.
It will be hard at first to say no, but it will get easier with practice. This does not mean you have to say no to everything, it just means you need to take back control of your schedule and say yes to only those things you want to do (well except for those things you have to do). There are days I want to say “no” to work and stay home all day in my pajamas with a good book; however, that is not an option.
I feel empowered when I am able to say no and relieved at what it has done for my schedule.
At this stage in my life with two little ones at home, a full-time job and starting a business, I am proud of myself for saying no.
I carefully consider how I spend my time. When I say I am not able to do something, it doesn’t mean I don’t like the person/people involved, it just might mean that at that time there is something more important I need to be doing.
That important thing could be spending time with my family or just by myself, because “me time” is just as important in my life as anything else.
Do you have other ways you say no or bow out of events that you may not want to attend?