Boundaries: Saying No

15 Dec

Saying No

Learning to say no to more requests can be one of the biggest favors you can do yourself and those you love. – Elizabeth Scott, M.S

Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.

Let me ask you …

  • Are you overscheduled and overstressed?
  • On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your ability to say “No” to things that don’t belong in your schedule?
  • What steps will you take to improve that?

This week I’ll be sharing about reducing stress, something many people experience an especially big dose of during the Christmas season.

A few days ago, I received an email from John Miller, founder of QBQ! (Question Behind The Question) titled “QBQ! Boundaries: Saying No.” That title grabbed my attention when I first read it and has continued to grab my attention each time I’ve seen that email in my Inbox.

Like many of you, I struggle with saying “No!” or better yet “No thanks.” The problem with that is it leads to over committing, which results in my “yes” not always being “yes.” And that leads to disappointments and hurt relationships. It also leads to me neglecting simple important daily commitments to myself, such as eating breakfast and exercising.

Here is part of what John Miller shared in his email message:

Drawing boundaries and resisting the temptation to overdo are all about “taking care of me,” and contrary to popular opinion there’s nothing wrong with that. If more of us took care of ourselves, we just might have an abundance of joy, improved mental and physical health, and greater peace of mind during a season that is all about Peace On Earth.

(Disclaimer: So why isn’t this message titled “Saying YES!” and encouraging people to partake in celebratory activities like those listed above? Because that’s not where most of us require strength. The lesson needed for many is not YES but, “No, thanks. Not this time.”)

Sure, it’s fun to revel in the holidays and to give to others, but possibly the best gift I can give myself and those around me this season is the gift of saying NO.

Blessing of the Day

1) How To Say No to People Making Demands on Your Time – by Elizabeth Scott, M.S. (see below)

Are you overscheduled and overstressed? With today’s busy schedules, you’re not alone. One way to pare down your schedule is to get good at saying no to new commitments. Whether you say “yes” instead of no out of guilt, inner conflict, or a misguided notion that you can “do it all,” learning to say no to more requests can be one of the biggest favors you can do yourself and those you love. It helps reduce stress levels and gives you time for what’s really important.

Time Required: Very little. And it will free up time for what’s important!

Here’s How:
Just say, “I’m sorry. I can’t do this right now.” Use a sympathetic, but firm tone. If pressured as to why, reply that it doesn’t fit with your schedule, and change the subject. Most reasonable people will accept this as an answer, so if someone keeps pressuring you, they’re being rude, and it’s OK to just repeat, “I’m sorry, but this just doesn’t fit with my schedule,” and change the subject, or even walk away if you have to.

If you’re uncomfortable being so firm, or are dealing with pushy people, it’s OK to say, “Let me think about it and get back to you.” This gives you a chance to review your schedule, as well as your feelings about saying “yes” to another commitment, do a cost-benefit analysis, and then get back to them with a yes or no. Most importantly, this tactic helps you avoid letting yourself be pressured into overscheduling your life and taking on too much stress.

If you would really like to do what they’re requesting, but don’t have the time (or are having trouble accepting that you don’t), it’s fine to say, “I can’t do this, but I can…” and mention a lesser commitment that you can make. This way you’ll still be partially involved, but it will be on your own terms.

Be firm — not defensive or overly apologetic — and polite. This gives the signal that you are sympathetic, but will not easily change your mind if pressured.

If you decide to tell the person you’ll get back to them, be matter-of-fact and not too promising. If you lead people to believe you’ll likely say “yes” later, they’ll be more disappointed with a later “no.”

If asked for an explanation, remember that you really don’t owe anyone one. “It doesn’t fit with my schedule,” is perfectly acceptable.

Remember that there are only so many hours in the day. This means that whatever you choose to take on limits your ability to do other things. So even if you somehow can fit a new commitment into your schedule, if it’s not more important than what you would have to give up to do it (including time for relaxation and self care), you really don’t have the time in your schedule.

This article has more strategies for finding time if you’re too busy.

Prayer Power
Heavenly Father, I confess that I have a problem saying “No” to things that You have not asked me to do or that simply do not fit into my schedule. Please forgive me. Help me to become much more disciplined with my daily and weekly routines and to prayerfully consider the cost of commitments before making them. Thank You Jesus. Amen.

Blessings to learn to say no much more often!

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