Saying No to people can be really hard. Especially if you’re a woman, we’re taught to say yes even when we’re uncomfortable. So saying no to family members, coworkers, friends, men, etc can be a challenge. But let me tell you, once you learn to do it it feels SO GOOD! Learning to say no is so liberating, so I’m going to share my tips on how to say no with personal policies and why it’s ok!
Give yourself permission to say No!
Life is too short to do things you don’t want to do or be around people you don’t like. If you don’t go to an event everyone will survive. I chose not to go to my family’s Easter gathering this year and I had a really great time with the house to myself for a few hours. If someone gets mad that’s their problem, not yours.
Learn from the past.
Last year (2018) was rough for me. I won’t bore you with details but a lot of people walked all over me and I was put in uncomfortable and upsetting situations. A lot of that could have been avoided if they where just considerate and communicated, that’s on them, but I could have saved myself some tears if I’d put down clear boundaries and said no a few times.
The first step is to identify times in the past where you should have said no. Why did you need to say no? What were the consequences of not saying no? How do you NOT want to feel in the future?
Related: How to Crush Your Limiting Beliefs
Set up Personal Policies around those situations.
A personal policy is a established set of guidelines that dictate your actions around specific situations.
You could have a policy against buying fast fashion, or watching/listening to media made by sexual predictors. Maybe you have a policy that everyone in your car must wear a seat belt. Or you could have a policy of petting every dog you meet at the park (with permission from the owner)!
Once you identify a few situations where you wish you’d said no, establish personal policies around those situations that will help you say no in the future.
For example, as the youngest of my siblings I have been assigned the role of The Babysitter. Did I enjoy cancelling my plans to babysit all the time in my teens and 20s? No. But I did it for years out of obligation. So now I have a personal policy of only babysitting when I’m free and actually want to (and I’m being paid).
Your policy can be about people, places, or things.
Have you even been repeatedly put in social situations you didn’t want to be in? Can you set a policy around not going to that type of place or being around that person?
You might establish policies against:
- Going to places where sleazy guys hang out.
- Going anyplace where a specific person is in attendance. (It is OK if this person is a family member!)
- Tolerating gross behavior from men.
- Drinking at work events.
Related: How to Get Out of a Bad Mood
Establishing policies can eliminate decision fatigue .
When you establish your personal policies ahead of time you can take the struggle out of saying no when the situation calls for it. It’s harder to argue with someone who has set boundaries. Telling someone “I have a policy of…” is more effective than saying “umm I’m not sure?” or “maybe.”
If a restaurant has a sign clearly saying “no shoes no service” are you going to argue with them? Probably not. When you establish clear “official” boundaries people are more likely to respect them.
Are there areas of your life that could be improved with personal policies? Using this concept has made the first 7 months of 2019 much less stressful for me. I hope it can do the same for you!
Love and light.