Learning To Say No & To Let Go

Posted by on Jul 12, 2016 in Blog, Lifestyle | 0 comments

Elements for Taking Care of Yourself

Learning To Say No & To Let Go


These two concepts are the most important for taking care of yourself, but also the most difficult to actually put into practice. They are definitely not something you will learn and master overnight, but once you do and truly grasp that it is OK to say no and to let go of something, you will feel free. Trust me, I’ve been there.

Saying no to people can be really hard for some people. It’s especially hard for us people pleasers and over-achievers. Yes, I admit that I was once one of those people. Well, still kind of am. I am just a lot better about it.

People like this have a hard time saying no for some common reasons. We want to make people happy, to like us and / or be proud of us. We want to work hard and be involved in numerous things to meet people and make connections, to advance us personally and / or professionally. And sometimes just because we are passionate, genuine and caring people who just like helping others, being a part of something and doing good in the world.

Having these characteristics isn’t a bad thing. It’s actually good because it shows that you are caring, motivated, driven and outgoing – all characteristics of successful people. What makes having them bad is acting too much on them. That’s when we tend to get ourselves in trouble.

Sometimes it helps to have a mental list of everything that is important to you and even prioritize it. When someone asks something of you, first stop and think if it involves something on your list and then where it falls on your list. Then think about everything else that you already have going on and are committed to, and the timing of those things. Can you have the time and energy to do whatever is being asked of you – without it interfering with other commitments and responsibilities, and without it leaving you without any “you” time? And maybe think about if and how saying yes will help or benefit you? While we shouldn’t always be doing things solely with the motive that you will get something from it, and not do things for selfish reasons, sometimes it’s ok. Maybe the other person has something they can do for you in return that you really need help with or that will help your business, maybe you’ll gain an experience or skills that will help your resume, maybe they will make a donation to your favorite charity in return.

If checking your list and asking yourself these questions makes you see that you are busy and already over-committed, and are exhausting yourself and not leaving yourself any “you” time, it’s OK to say no. Let me repeat that: it’s OK to say no. Trust me, I know it’s hard to do. I found myself both physically and mentally exhausted from years of never saying no and I found myself being no good for myself or others.

It’s not just activities and such that we have to sometimes say no to. There’s other things in life that warrant situations when you should or might need to say no. Anyone who is a boss knows that you do sometimes have to say no to requests from employees or issues and behavior in the workplace. Parents definitely have lots of occasions when they need to say no to their children. We even have to say no to our friends. Maybe they want something of ours, maybe they want you to do something that you’re uncomfortable with. We even say no when out engaging in life. Maybe instead of saying your food is good and that you like it, when it’s really horrible and you would really like to send it back, we need to say no it’s not good. Or maybe we need to say no to a contractor’s idea or suggestion for work on your house. If something makes you uncomfortable, goes against your morals and ethics, is something you really don’t like or want, it’s OK to say no.

Saying no is definitely something you have to get used to and probably won’t learn overnight. Start small. Try saying no to less significant things. Maybe you have had a long day and really don’t feel like going out at night. Maybe you have had a long weekend and really need to just rest instead of going to an all-day occasion. Gradually work your way up to saying no to things you’re uncomfortable with or not OK with, and things that you really just don’t have the time, energy and resources to do. Over time you will become more and more comfortable with it, and won’t feel so bad when you do need to say no. Even now I still feel bad about having to say no, but I have learned that you can’t keep over-committing and over-exerting yourself, and ultimately keep trying to make everyone happy and have everyone like you.

A big part of learning to say no is learning to let go. That can mean multiple things, depending on the person, but for many people it’s letting go of being in charge or in control and letting go of worrying about what others think of you. This is a really hard concept for us perfectionists and over-achievers!

It starts with accepting the fact that you can delegate to others and have someone else do something. You do not have to do it all. You can’t do it all. Yes, they may not have your experience and they may not do it the way you would. But as long as it gets done, in a timely manner and it turns out well, that’s all that matters. Sure, you might have to make some tweaks or ask them to make some changes, but spending just a few minutes doing those things sure beats spending a much larger chunk of time doing the entire thing, when you’re already busy. In doing so, you just may teach someone else so one day you won’t even need to make or ask for any changes. Mentoring is a really great thing. I know I’ve learned a lot from my superiors and more experienced colleagues over the years.

The other aspect is learning not to be so concerned with what others think of you. People pleasers and over-achievers tend to be really focused on this, because it’s important to us that people like us, think we are valuable, are talented, are experts, are the go-to person or are simply fun and enjoyable to be around. A lot of energy is subconsciously spent on making sure people think these things. Both professionally and personally.

Obviously, from a professional standpoint you want to be good at what you do and to make a name for yourself. It’s flattering to have others seek you out or turn to you because they think you are an expert, good at what you do or are the person who will get the job done to their satisfaction. That is fine as long as you aren’t over-committing and over-extend yourself, and going well out of your way to not only meet their expectations but exceed them. This may also mean you may have to be honest and admit when you don’t have the necessary skills and tools to get the job done, even though you would really like to do it and impress them. Sometimes you just have to let go of the idea that you are the best at what you do and that’s ok. The truth is, no one actually is the best and no one really is perfect. Everyone has different things to bring to the table and no one person is truly better than another.

From a personal standpoint, sure it’s nice to have lots of friends and even be considered popular. It’s nice to frequently get invited out or even asked out. Society has this notion that the more friends you have and the more popular are, the better you are, the cooler you are. So, so many people focus so much time, energy and even money on getting people to like them. In doing so, people worry about what they say, how they act and the things they have just to impress people and be liked. Stop right now if you’re one of those people. I can tell you, you aren’t truly going to be happy and comfortable with yourself if you’re surrounding yourself with people who aren’t truly your friends. You’re going to feel uptight and restricted because you’re not allowing yourself to truly be yourself. You should not surround yourself with people who you cannot be yourself with. If you can’t be yourself around someone or a group of people, walk away. Walk away before you feel restricted, under constant watch and like you’re suffocating.

It doesn’t matter what people think of you. Sure, you want to be seen as a good person and an upstanding citizen. But people should like you for who you truly are and not the things you say, do or have just to impress them. If others don’t like what you do, how you carry yourself, things you have done or accomplished, and so much more, that’s ok. Just let it go. Reality is, haters are going to h’ate, but it’s not because you are a bad person or aren’t enjoyable. It’s because you don’t fall into their idea of how people should be or in alignment with their ideals, goals, morals, values, ethics, lifestyle, what they are or aren’t doing with their life, and maybe even because they are jealous of things you have, things you have done, what you are doing and what you’re making of your life. I can tell you from personal experience that once you truly let go and stop being so concerned with what others think of you, you’re going to feel a huge weight come off of your shoulders and you will feel truly free. Free to be yourself, to do whatever you want without worry about what others are going to think or say, and free to express yourself with words and actions without worry about what others are going to think or say. I’ll be honest, you may lose some friends in doing so, or friends may become acquaintances or just people you know, but if that happens they were never really your friends to begin with. That’s the truth. It’s far better to have a small circle of friends who love and appreciate and support you for who you are, rather than a large circle of friends who you need to put an act on for and who are going to judge everything you say or do.

It’s important to take care of yourself and just let go. Start putting yourself, your well-be and your happiness first. You will be well on your way to living and loving the good life when you do.

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