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The Art of Saying NO!

November 4, 2018


                    By Jay Reed, LCSW 




The power of yes...have you read one of those books? You know, the ones that tell you to say yes to everything. I can remember reading one that said just that. The basic premise was if you say yes to everything and everyone your life will magically be better. 🧐 Now I can honestly say I didn’t give that idea my 100% effort but I have always tried to live my life with a positive outlook. I have come to appreciate that people with a naturally positive outlook are happier and those of us who tend to be the glass half empty people struggle far more often. So the idea of saying yes speaks to my belief that a positive attitude will get you far. The idea of saying yes to everything and anyone, however, is a dangerous game. I am a yes person, a people pleaser and an natural caregiver. It is in my nature to say yes, because I want to help and I want people to feel good. I have found it difficult to say no, even when I really don’t want to do something. Ten years ago, when I started my career, I was the ultimate yes person. You need me to cover your shift, I’m your girl. You need someone to work Christmas Day, sign me up! I can remember once working 48 hours straight because I just kept saying yes. Needless to say after 2 years of saying yes I was burnt out. I had to re-examine my life and figure out how I got there. I soon realized I was putting everyone else’s needs before my own. The approval of my peers and superiors meant everything to me. I hated the idea of letting my clients down. Little did I know I was letting myself down and by default I was letting down everyone who mattered. The art of saying no is a strange idea. I can remember the first time I encouraged a client to say no to her mother. I’m sure she left thinking our session I was a selfish nut job who clearly didn’t understand her problems with her codependent manic Mother. I have since learnt not only the art of saying no, but the art of teaching others how to say no. I have come to believe that my own well being is far more valuable to my family and friends than my guareented RSVP to every child’s birthday party. I can now confidently tell someone ‘no’. No, I’m sorry I can not work late or unfortunately I will not be able to attend your next book club meeting. How, you may ask? Well it’s simple, I have learnt that in order to be good a my job, to be a happy mother and wife I need to find a balance between the needs of others and my own. I can not be effective if I am SELFLESS all the time and neither can you my friend. The word selfish seems to be a dirty word, so instead I prefer the words “self care”. Saying no has allowed me to focus on what is really important. My loved ones deserve the best version of me; heck, I deserve to be the best version of me. I have found that saying no to things that are bad for my health, are too draining or that I simply do not want to do allows me to give more of myself to things that really matter. I can now be more present in a session with a client or when I am helping my 5 year old with his VPK homework. Saying no has opened up more opportunities because I am not stretched so thin. I still consider myself to be a positive person, who cares about other. However, I have come to understand that if said the right way, saying no can fit into my positive lifestyle. I challenge you to say no the next time someone asks you to work a shift you really don’t want to. Or say no the next time someone asks you to a party way across town when you have already changed into you pjs. Say no so that you can say yes to the things that make you happy. Just say no!  

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