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Learning to Say No

Learning to Say No

Have you ever been so busy that you got overwhelmed? Have you ever had so much on your plate that saying yes to one more thing would push you over the edge? Do you still say yes even when you really want to say no? If any of these situations apply to you then you need a lesson in how to say no. This is important in recovery as getting stressed out or overwhelmed can quickly lead to relapse.

Many people feel compelled to agree to every request, even if it means no time for themselves. However, learning to say no can actually earn you respect from those around you. We tend to continue to say yes because we think saying no to a request is uncaring, selfish, or in some way letting others down. Some may even fear being disliked, criticized, or risking a friendship. This is a real fear for those in recovery as everything is changing and the idea of losing friends is not a good one. However, being able to say no is actually linked to self confidence. This means that those with low self esteem and low self confidence tend to agonize or feel nervous about saying no to others. Saying yes to everything can leave you feeling exhausted, stressed, and irritable, emotions that can be detrimental to recovery.

So the rest of this article will share some tips on saying no when needed.

When saying no, keep your answers simple while being firm and direct. ‘No’ is an answer that is perfectly acceptable to give. You do not need to explain yourself any further than saying ‘no’. In fact, offering an explanation gives people an opportunity to talk you into it further.

Another way to say no is by buying yourself some time. Often when we are put on the spot it is nerve racking. Answer with ‘I will have to think about it’ and buy yourself time to decide if it is something you really want to do. If someone needs an immediate answer and you are unsure, say no.

Consider a compromise if you really want to help, but need to find time in your schedule. This is not necessarily saying no, but let me see what I truly have time to do. This way you can check your schedule and see what amount of work you can handle without being overwhelmed. Be true to what you really want. If your best friend wants you to go out to a  party or help them move and you truly do not want to or can’t, then don’t. It is perfectly acceptable to say no to others.

Remember that saying no is not a rejection of a person, but a refusal of the activity that was requested. Everyone needs to hear no from time to time, including your children. You need to take care of yourself and that means down time in life. This does not mean refusing every request as you do not want to isolate, but it does mean knowing yourself and what you can handle without getting overwhelmed.

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