The (Gentle) Art of Saying "No"

by Diana Solomon

We live in an era where the FOMO (fear of missing out) is not just a teen thing, but a real problem that can impact our health.  We also have busy schedules, never ending to-do lists, we are multitasking and `I do not have time` becomes a refrain we sing  on a daily basis.

We say YES to everything because we do not want to miss any opportunity. And every time we have five minutes to spare, we reach for our phones. We are so eager to stay connected that we do not realize that we are, in fact, increasingly disconnected.

We also say YES to material things. A new blouse that we saw in a shop, a cute bag or maybe a new home decoration.  And, at the end of a day, we are feeling overwhelmed both by the tasks we have just enrolled and the stuff that we have bought.

There are many reasons why is hard for us to say no. Maybe we want to more adventurous , or to try new things. Maybe we are not feeling comfortable refusing a task from our boss. Maybe we do not want to disappoint anyone or maybe that big discount convinced us to buy (another) cute notebook.

But here is a funny thing to contemplate: NO=YES. So, once we learn that saying `no` really means saying `yes`, it will be more easier for us to practice the gentle art of saying no.

Therefore, if you suffer from stress lately, sadness, anxiety that comes from over commitment, maybe it is time to reevaluate the way you are spending your time (or money).

But how do I do this, you are asking yourself? Here are some suggestions:

  • Sleep on it. In this way you will take time to check your availability, your priorities and see if saying yes will add a value to your work or life
  • Make a list. A classic Pros&Cons will help you make a decision even if we are talking about a new job or a new pair of shoes
  • Think about all the When you will say no to a new commitment you may say yes to spending more time with your family, practicing your hobbies. And when it comes to things, a big NO may mean more space in your closet, more room in your home
  • If you do not want to say no to a person, maybe you can find someone more suitable for doing that task.
  • Postpone it. If not urgent, maybe you can do that thing some other time, when you are having a easy day or week.

Saying yes may be exciting sometimes, especially when you step outside of your comfort zone. But we think that saying no can also open doors.

Likewise, a no can mean less stress, less worries, more time for your loved one or your hobbies, or even more money if we are taking into consideration shopping.

Remind yourself that you do not have to have a full agenda to be happy, or a wardrobe full of clothes. You just have to be more present with your tasks and more intentional in your activities. In this way you will know how to gently refuse new commitments or material things.


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