Monday, 22 April 2013

the art of saying no

Do you recall a time in your life when your gut feeling kicked in and screamed, 'Say no!', but yet you went ahead and said, 'Yeah, ok'? Do you have one or two regrets which are based around your inability to put your foot down? Do you think your boundaries could be stronger? Welcome to the minds of most people! Petty much all of us have areas of our lives in which we could strive to implement our core principles with more certainty. Some people hate to say no to a favour, an invitation or a course of action because they fear being seen as unkind. Some people fear using more of their time and energy for themselves in case it implies selfishness. But the art of saying no is the art of living authentically, especially when you've connected with your intuition and it's made its decision final! When you get what I like to call 'that deep down no', how do you honour it? Here are some thoughts from one traveller to another on this funny little journey called life.

If saying no doesn't come naturally to you, try practising the art of imitation. Which people in your life tend to be the ones to make their feelings known with diplomacy but firmness? Who takes no prisoners when it comes to living life on their own terms? When you feel cornered by a 'yes or no' question and you don't feel capable of giving your honest answer, think about those people who truly embody the art of saying no and fill yourself with their incredibly energy. Embody their power.

Face your fears. Take a look at the times in your life when you've been a bit of a push over. What was it about the situation that made you feel unable to maintain your boundaries? Get specific here. What did you think might have happened if you'd said no? Did you think you'd lose a friend? Then ask yourself if the kind of friend who'd resent you for speaking your truth is really the kind of friend you want. Did you say yes because you knew it would make others happy? Then consider how much of your life is spent trying to gain the approval of others - is that really ok with you? Maybe in the past you felt able to compromise more, but now you're clearer on your goals and you're not so prepared to allow others to take what they want while you lose out.

Solidify your core principles. Once you know what they are and why you want to stick with them, people will find it much more difficult to change your mind. It's ok to have strong core principles. It's actually essential if you truly want to co-create your reality. You owe it to yourself to get clear on these principles and make a promise to yourself that you'll honour them, even if they don't make much sense to the outside world. You don't have to hurt other people to remain true to yourself. All you have to do is let people know that your truth is important to you and that there are some deal breakers and some points on which you will refuse to compromise if it doesn't feel right. Flexibility is the key to living comfortably with your core principles. If you feel like bending your own rules, you can. But it has to be on your terms.

Give when you can. You have so much to give and when you help other people out, listen to them, show them support and make an effort with them, you'll feel much better about saying no when the situation calls for it. A lot of people worry about coming across as selfish if they stand their ground, but if they can look at everything they have given without expecting anything in return, they can help themselves to justify the 'no' they wish to honour. Take a look at the compromises you've made and the time you've taken to bring a smile to someone else's face. Doesn't someone who gives of themselves deserve to the chance to be themselves? Balance is the key element here. Where are the imbalances in your life?

Reassess the meaning of the word 'no'. It seems like such a negative word. It's what we sternly say to children when they can't have something they want. It's the word no man ever wants his partner to say when he's down on one knee popping the big question. It seems cold, reductive, miserable.. It's time to change your emotional response to the word 'no'. Visualise standing your ground on a really important issue. When the word 'no' comes out of your mouth in the visualisation, it should be said with strength, with liberation and with passion.

Now use other words. You can say no in a myriad of different ways. You don't have to be angry or defensive. You don't have to actively upset the people you're refusing. You can find your own way of being assertive which feels comfortable for you. Being assertive is scary at first, but you'll get increasingly more fond of it once you've experienced the incredible benefits. Practice saying 'no, because...' This enables you to get used to saying 'no' whilst also permitting yourself to give your reasons and toughen up, focusing on your perspective rather than worrying too much about theirs.

Do you need to say no?