What is it about saying “no”?
What is it about saying no that makes some of us so anxious? I'm convinced too many people overload their schedules simply because they are too concerned with what others think to tell them no. Saying no is simple, really: "No, that really doesn't work with my schedule right now." "No, my time with family is so precious, I really can't afford to add another responsibility right now." Busyness is often based in fear, and fear of what others might think tops the list.
A friend shared recently that she'd been asked to take on a volunteer project that she wishes she'd never been asked to do. She feels bad about not taking it on, so she's trying to figure out how to pile it on top of all of the other stuff on her schedule, including the start of a new school year for her kids, volunteer work at church and new responsibilities at work.
"Well, they really want me to do it and I'd be letting them down if I try to pass it off to someone else," she explained. "It's just once a week. It's for a good cause." It sounded more like she was trying to convince herself rather than me. "What do you think?" she asked.
"I think you should take a deep breath and ask yourself what you think," was my response. "What do you sense in your spirit is the right answer?"
"I don't want to do it and I'm worried about what they will think," she replied.
That was the truth. And hearing herself say the obvious gave her the clarity to make a tough decision. The truth will make you free, but first, you have to admit it. She was more concerned about what others thought than what she thought.
This week, I challenge you to get honest with yourself when you feel anxious about a choice you need to make. Consider a decision, a choice or situation in which you feel anxious about saying "no" even though saying "yes" will result in filling your schedule with an activity that really isn't a priority for you right now. Coach yourself with these questions:
- What do you really want to say in this situation?
- What are you worried will happen if you say "no"?
- If you say "yes," what priorities or goals will get less of your time?
- What lesson is this situation offering you right now? Will you embrace the lesson?
When you learn to speak the truth, without beating around the bush, you free yourself to focus on your priorities.
Valorie Burton is a professional speaker, life coach and the author of five books, including What’s Really Holding You Back?, Listen to Your Life, and How Did I Get So Busy? The 28-Day Plan to Free Your Time, Reclaim Your Schedule and Reconnect with What Matters Most. Subscribe to her free e-newsletter at www.valorieburton.com and follow her at www.twitter.com/valorieburton.