How to Say No Without Feeling Guilty

How to Say NO

Nowadays our lives remind us sometimes of the song “Dog days are over”, when we run-run-run trying to make it on time everywhere, secretly hoping that the rhyme in the song will soon give us a break. And then we would love to stop for a moment and catch our breath but instead we keep on running through our daily life grabbing more challenges on the way and putting them into our basket.

But the beautiful truth here is that some of the things that seem to be urgent, in reality, are not that important from a second glance and can be extinguished by a simple guilt-free habit of saying NO.

In this tiny word “NO” that we are too scared to say sometimes hides the secret source of power. But how often do we practice using it without feeling guilty? Why is it beneficial to say NO more often?

How to Say No Without Feeling Guilty?

Your 24 Hours a Day

It’s not a news flash that we all equally have 24 hours a day. Not more, not less. Naturally the more successful you are at your time management, the better the quality of your life balance is.

No matter how great our wish for that might be, it’s not possible to buy more time to finish all things at once. In fact, if we had more time, let’s say, an extra hour a day to finish the current bundle of tasks, I can assure you, you would have come up with more problems to solve during that hour. And the question of not having enough time would have popped up again. So would the level of stress.

Notice that when you are overwhelmed with extra work lovingly dumped on your shoulders by somebody else, you stop doing what you do best trying to grasp all at once… And time is anything but a rubber band. Naturally, the more things to do you put on your list, the more stress they bring.

So we all shall learn how to make the most out of 24 hours without losing our minds…

Just Say “NO”

If you find yourself in an overcommitted state, you can gain back control over your time with a simple “NO”. Basically, we need to learn to respect and appreciate the time given to us.

Say “NO” to all unplanned tasks for today to save current things in their natural flow. It might look like it’s easier to say than do. Especially when “NO” comes along with guilt…

We often think that people will be upset or angry with us because we failed to support their expectations and, as a result, we give them some power over our time. But remember this: no one is in a position to be in charge of YOUR time. Also, there is a firm possibility that people you say “NO” to would not hold a grudge and eventually they will move on to search other opportunities and tools to solve their problems on their own.

When you say “yes” to others, make sure you are not saying “no” to yourself – Paulo Coelho

We often fear that this word “NO” can destroy our good relationship with the person who asked us to do something and, therefore, we often assume the obligation to do that in any cause, forgetting to value our time first. And get this: a simple opportunity to solve the problem on their own will do much more good than if you would have interfered and offered your time to troubleshoot the whole thing. They are capable of finding their own way out.

You don’t have to feel guilty (unless you want to) for the things you truly don’t want to do that people ask you to do. You have your own reasons and the answer “NO” is a hot stamp to it. Don’t lose yourself in an entanglement of excuses. You don’t have to. You don’t owe anything to anybody.

Try to distinguish important things to do (and to help others with it) from minor ones that they are really capable of doing on their own. Take the time to evaluate the state of  your current plans by releasing your tight schedule from unforeseen tasks. Which of them are beneficial the most? Get rid of meaningless activities without a hint of regret. Saying “NO” awards you with more space in your schedule to extend your circle of interests.

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When NO is Better Than YES?

Keep Your Focus on Importance

Take a good look at the list of your priorities and ask yourself if you are ready to take up new responsibilities. Are they really important? If a new commitment is in fact something you feel confident and passionate about, do it. If it’s meaningless, then it’s ok to sit that one through and take a pass. No questions asked. No regrets.

New Stress Is Not Welcome

Now take a moment and think about the commitment you have in mind at the moment. Is it a short term, or a long-term thing? How stressful might it be for you? For instance, agreeing to be a party organiser or a happy participant are not the same in stress levels. Don’t commit to something that might add god awful amounts of stress.

Cut The Guilt

Why would you agree on doing something out of guilt or obligation when you know for sure you would rather decline the appeal? Going through with the request would only lead to resentment and more stress. Cut the quilt out of the equation.

How to Say “NO”?

I Said NO!

As I said earlier above, the word NO has power and we have to use it more often avoiding substitutes like: “I’m not sure that I can help you NOW”. This might be perceived as if you would say YES in the future.

Briefness is a Sister of Talent

If you decided to state the reason why you refused to do something then, by all means, do it but be brief. There is no need to go on and on why you cannot do what you are not interested in doing. Don’t lose yourself in excuses.

Honesty is The Best

There is no need to fabricate reasons and bad fairytales to get out of a commitment. The truth is always better than a mysterious excuse. Plus, we can save ourselves some trouble of being embarrassed if the whole “master plan” of deceit bursts like a balloon.

Be Respectful

Listen respectfully. No interruptions. Then you may say what you think about the request.

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Didn’t Get It? Hit Replay.

There is a possibility that you will have to refuse several times before the person accepts your reply. In that case, hit the replay button and calmly repeat your NO.

If you used to say YES all the time to anything, it might be a tough challenge to learn to say NO at first. The truth is, it is an important part of simplifying your life and releasing it from things that are eager to steal your time away. Practice more and you will find it much easier with time to say NO. Simplify your life and stay respectful to your time.

Photo by Dmitry Korkynov