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Section 9
Saying No

Question 9 | Test | Table of Contents

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In the last section, we discussed the four techniques of Doing it, Delegating it, Throwing it away, and Questioning it, to assess what drains you.

In this section, we will discuss yes's and should's and what stops you from saying no.

Do you feel you have your "after holiday" let down and depression due to the fact that you feel over committed, overwhelmed and over-stressed? Where do you spend your time? If you were to make a list of your daily activities is the underlying message that you feel you have no choices about how you use your time? That might be the first area to analyze.

We all have choices. Some of these choices are very difficult. Time is finite. Obviously you only get a certain amount.

3 Techniques to Prevent Feeling Overwhelmed

♦ Technique #1: 24 Hour Priority List
One of the best ways to see whether your schedule reflects your priorities is to write on a paper the details of a typical week's schedule. If you're feeling overwhelmed by the after Christmas backlash, make a list of the 24 hours in your day, for example, seven houses to sleep, 12 hours to work, 4 hours for life maintenance like eating, cleaning, shopping, which leaves you one hour of time for self family and friends.

With a schedule like this, weekends become a catchall for the necessities of life such as: laundry, getting your car or computer repaired, shopping, and other personal tasks.

Now that you have written down your schedule and defined your current priorities, you're ready to reevaluate this list.

Using your current priority list, answer the following questions:

1. What's most important to you at this time in your life? Your children, your grades, keeping your job?
2. Where would you like to spend more of your time? Enjoying your children?
3. If you could do anything you wanted without restrictions, what would it be? Pick up a hobby?
4. Are there areas that need your attention, like your health, a relationship, work, or financial concerns?
5. Is there a secret dream or desire that keeps getting put on the back burner that you'd like to devote more time to? If so, what is it?
6. What needs less attention? Work? More attention? Relationship with your husband or wife?

♦ Technique #2: 2-Step Absolute Yes List
Once you've had a chance to define what is important, you're ready to create an Absolute Yes list. This is a new list of priorities that will inspire you to use your gift of time differently. Forget about the "shoulds," and focus on the "wants." This is your life.

1. Choose priorities that are personally important to you.

2. Make a list with at least five categories that need changing in your life such as, self-care, relationship with a certain family member, self-imposed deadlines, school, and household chores. After listing your new priorities in descending order, expand on each priority and think of ways to improve that area of your life. How will you bring your priorities into your daily life?

For example, if self-care is on your Absolute Yes list, look for ways to include self-care in everyday tasks or events like spending quiet time with yourself, daily meditation, and exercise. Let your Absolute Yes list remind you of what's important; what you really want. When you know what you want, your focus becomes crystal clear; you are able to honor your priorities in any situation.

♦ Technique #3: "Just Say No"
Once you've determined what you want to say yes to, the ability to say no becomes an important muscle to build. An inability to use this muscle is the main obstacle that prevents most people from living the lives they want. This is why your Absolute Yes list must be filled with things that are truly important to you.

When your priorities are compelling, it's great motivation to "just say no." Over the next week, keep track of how many times you agree to something that's not a true Yes! Notice how you regret a commitment you've already made, like agreeing to go to a social event that you'd rather not attend. Mark the number of times in your appointment book and total it at the end of the week. Now look at the number. Are you surprised? Saying yes to things that are not a priority for you will rob you of your precious gift of time. Awareness is the first step.

What stops you from saying no?

Common responses to this question are statements such as:
If I say no, I may disappoint others.
If I say no, then I'll have to deal with the reactions that others may have.
I'm afraid of rocking the boat and creating conflict.
If I say no, I may regret it later.
If I say no, people won't like me.
If I say no, people may stop asking.
If I say no, there may be serious consequences - someone may end our relationship or get angry, or I may lose my job.
It's easier to just say yes.

The common denominator in all of these statements is fear. Saying no brings up a fear of disappointing or hurting others, missing opportunities, and making mistakes. But saying no means saying yes to you! Use your Absolute Yes list as a guide. Don't let the fear of saying no prevent you from living the life you want.

If you could say no to someone or something, knowing that there would be absolutely no hard feelings or negative consequences, who or what would you say no to? Is there a project you would give up? A relationship you would end? A date you might break? Answering this question may reveal your true motivation behind those commitments you make and later regret. You may be more afraid of rocking the boat than of honoring your priorities.

Now make a list of five things you'd like to say no to. You may have things on there like: I want to say no to watching my sister's kids every Sunday; I want to say no to cooking dinner every night; or I want to say no to having lunch with my mother every Thursday. Start with the first no on your list and take action. It's OK to say no or change your mind, especially when you feel overwhelmed or pressed for time. They may feel disappointed or angry, but it doesn't make you decision to say no the wrong choice. There will be moments when creating a high-quality life will require you to disappoint others.

Start making commitments that work for you. If you think you can finish a project in a week, say you'll need two, and deliver it early. Instead of using deadlines to motivate you, let a relaxed pace allow you to enjoy the process. This gives you room to breathe and helps you build a reputation as someone who keeps his or her word.

In this section, we have discussed Yes's and should's and what stops you from saying no.

In the next section, we will discuss the Money Trap part 1.

Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Bailen, N. H., Wu, H., & Thompson, R. J. (2019). Meta-emotions in daily life: Associations with emotional awareness and depression. Emotion, 19(5), 776–787. 

Bardeen, J. R., & Fergus, T. A. (2020). Emotion regulation self-efficacy mediates the relation between happiness emotion goals and depressive symptoms: A cross-lagged panel design. Emotion, 20(5), 910–915. 

Cetinkol, G., Bastug, G., & Ozel Kizil, E. T. (2020). Poor acceptance of the past is related to depressive symptoms in older adults. GeroPsych: The Journal of Gerontopsychology and Geriatric Psychiatry. Advance online publication. 

Fried, E. I., van Borkulo, C. D., Epskamp, S., Schoevers, R. A., Tuerlinckx, F., & Borsboom, D. (2016). Measuring depression over time . . . Or not? Lack of unidimensionality and longitudinal measurement invariance in four common rating scales of depression. Psychological Assessment, 28(11), 1354–1367. 

Milyavskaya, M., Inzlicht, M., Hope, N., & Koestner, R. (2015). Saying “no” to temptation: Want-to motivation improves self-regulation by reducing temptation rather than by increasing self-control. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 109(4), 677–693. 

Robyak, J. E. (1991). Review of Saying no is not enough [Review of the book Saying no is not enough, by R. Schwebel]. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 5(1), 56–57.

Watson, K. (2015). No, thank YOU. Families, Systems, & Health, 33(4), 421.

What is a common denominator in saying no? To select and enter your answer go to Test.

Section 10
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