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Learning to say 'no'


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#1 Cira

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Posted 21 November 2003 - 02:55 PM

Hey, everyone ~

I know this is an issue that many can relate to, so I thought I'd post about it and see if any of you have thoughts.  Right now, the whole issue with learning to say no to others is becoming a huge problem for me.  I've always had problems saying no.  I'm SO afraid to disappoint people and always tend to figure that it won't kill me to take on one more thing in order to make someone happy.  It's crap.  I know it's crap, and it's got to stop.  Right now, it's an extremely huge issue for me, b/c of some things going on.  

Yesterday, I got the opportunity to talk to the woman who runs our local crisis center.  She is desperately searching for volunteers, and she's working very hard to improve what was an absolute joke of a "crisis center" before she took over (for example, a friend of mine called right after remembering her rape and was told to 'get over it').  I really, really, really want to volunteer.  I'm finally in a place where I feel I could handle it, and finally in a place where I feel like I have something to offer to the people who call.  Tamara (the woman who runs the center) is absolutely fabulous - I've known her peripherally for some time and we really see eye to eye on a lot of survivors' issues.  She has that same determination that I have when it comes to making a difference.  She knows a bit about the volunteering I do online and she was positively glowing yesterday when I mentioned wanting to maybe get involved.  I really want to do this.  I feel like I need to -- for me.  Considering this is along the lines of what I want to do with my life, I think it would be a good step to take...and an empowering one at that.

My problem is this:  I am already SO busy.  To put it easily, in order to make the time for volunteering in RL, I would have to ease up a bit in other areas.  I hate to let people down.  But I also know that I have to do what I need to to further my own personal growth.  And I think working at the crisis center is something I need to do.

I would also have to set limits and boundaries with the people in my RL.  I would have to learn to say no to dinner invitations or nights out that I usually say yes to, b/c I don't know how to say no.  It would mean that I would have to learn to tell people that sometimes I don't have time to chat on the phone for an hour.

I just hate to let people down.  Or to feel like I am.  I have this horrible habit of expecting myself to be super-woman.  I'm not.  I, of all people, should know I am *not* super-woman by any means.  Nor should I expect myself to be.

OK, I'm rambling like I usually do!  Does anyone have any thoughts on getting past this?  I'm sick of not being able to say no to people!

xoxo

Lynn


#2 Guest__*

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Posted 21 November 2003 - 03:24 PM

Oh, yeah, I can relate to that. I've burnt myself oout several times because I took on just one more favour for someone.

The first trick that really helped me saying no to other people was when there was something I didn't want to do, or didn't have time to do but I didn't feel comfortable saying no, I'd ask for time to think about it. Then I'd rehearse saying no until I was more comfortable saying it. Then I'd actually take the plunge and say no.

The second is a little underhanded. Blame someone else. Your demanding boss, inflexible therapist (it's amazing what my parents stop bugging me about when I tell them my therapist said so!),

Learning to set limits is a difficult process and intermediate steps are a lifesaver!

((((((Lynn)))))

Caitlin


#3 Lis

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Posted 21 November 2003 - 03:37 PM

Ohmygod Lynn, I have such a problem saying "no" to people. I'm not sure if I have much advice, because I haven't figured it out myself, yet. I do know that I'll be stealing Caitlin's idea about asking for time to think about it.

I can get the initial "no" out, but then if people push me, pressure me, or make me feel bad about it at all, I totally cave.

I'd love to hear suggestions, too. I really want to learn how to do this :)

-Lis

PS - The crisis center sounds like it could really be a positive experience for you. AND it sounds like they really need you!


#4 Cira

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Posted 21 November 2003 - 03:45 PM

Caitlin ~  Thank you for your reply.  Your first point was an excellent one (one I will try, for sure!).  Your second one just flat cracked me up - that is just the sort of underhanded shit I do but  try not to do...but still resort to doing when I can't think of another way!  LOL!

Lis ~ I had a feeling you would relate to this one.  I can also at times manage the inital no...but I give in if someone presssures me or makes me feel guilty.  The guilt thing is often unintentional on the parts of most of the people who tend to do it, but it has the same effect, whether they mean to or not.

I'm realizing, too, that it's rather triggering for me not to be able to say no.  I'm sure it doesn't take an expert to analyze those reasons.

xoxo

Lynn


#5 Lis

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Posted 21 November 2003 - 03:52 PM

it's rather triggering for me not to be able to say no.


Yep. I think the trigger for me is having to say no to someone multiple times - someone who isn't paying attention to my clearly expressed body language and words (so I just give in to avoid the stress of the situation).

Ugh.

-Lis


#6 Laney

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Posted 21 November 2003 - 04:03 PM

Yep. I think the trigger for me is having to say no to someone multiple times - someone who isn't paying attention to my clearly expressed body language and words (so I just give in to avoid the stress of the situation).


That sounds just like me!

I have a really hard time saying no.  Whether it's someone asking me if I want to go somewhere, or someone looking for a time commitment.  I don't want to disappoint, and I don't want people to disregard my wishes.

Laney


#7 bloogirl

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Posted 22 November 2003 - 01:26 AM

this might sound silly, but i actually practiced saying no.  id walk around my apartment and say no, no NO No No nOOOooooOOooooo.  id get down to making funny voices as i said no.  id crack myself up.  saying no is a very good thing to practice doing.  writing it out over and over is also another idea i tried.
another idea... put your feet down.  put them down, squarely on the ground.  you know the expression, 'cant put your foot down...'?  saying no is about putting your foot down.  practice putting your feet down firmly.  when i started playing with this, i couldnt believe how often my feet were not down, how theyd be slightly down, or propped up, but not down.  it seems to help my life to practice putting my feet down, literally.
those metaphors are powerful things. :)


#8 penmark

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Posted 22 November 2003 - 01:37 PM

This is such a big thing for me!  It can get me in so much trouble.  I am currently in a TON of hot water with numerous other teachers throughout my building because I agreed to let them use my class for this huge research thing and now it is due, we are running late and I have to be out of the building.  I tried to make everyone happy, and now (as what usually happens) people are all completely aggravated with me and I am frustrated.  This is still something I really struggle with- especially when like you said you managed to say no once and then they kept bothering you.
For me, I try to remember that my worth to people is not completely dependent on what I do for them.  They are not going to hate me if I say no every once in awhile.  I also try to weigh in how big of a deal it is.  I ask the question that if I don't do this, will there be someone else who can? (This one is still a big hurdle for me because I then fall into the thoughts of "well I am completely disposable and someone will come and replace me because they are probably much better anyway")
This is sooooo hard!  I try to remember that when I take on too many commitments I can end up being counter productive because I can't be everywhere and be there for everyone and someone always ends up getting hurt.  It is better to do a really good job at a few things than do less than my best on a ton of things.  
It is like the all-you-can-eat buffet life philosophy.  Yes, they have every dish known to man and everyone can find something they like to eat.  You can get pizza, shrimp and enchiladas on the same plate!  However, do you really want to eat it?  ???  OR, would you rather eat at a really good Italian restaurant where maybe someone doesn't get to eat their favorite kind of food, but most people REALLY enjoy the meal? :love:
Food for thought!  :upside:
Much love my dear!
~pen


#9 Monika

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Posted 22 November 2003 - 02:19 PM

The whole not wanting to disappoint people and having difficulty setting limits is a universal theme throughout much of my life. I can so totally relate!

I love your outlook, Pen. It is important to remember that our worth is not dependent upon what we can do for people (important to remember, but often difficult to remember... do you think it would look weird if I slapped a sticky note on my forehead that said just that? It could be the beginning of a new fashion trend ??? )

Caitlin, I love your idea of asking for time to think about it. That is another thing I'll need to do! If I had a dime for every freakin' time I said yes that I'd do something that I didn't want to do or have time to do, I'd be one wealthy woman. Ack!

One thing that has been helpful to me in the past several months is really realizing how detrimental over extending myself has been for me. I left a job that took advantage of my time, never heard my voice when it said "no, I can't do such and such"...and ultimately never really respected any limits I set. Overall that is a sucky experience, BUT it has taught me a lot and has made me much more careful in terms of what I take on because I'l think "holy shit, I don't want to end up like that again! EVER!"

Some of this, I think, also relates back to Laney's self-validation thread found here. We have to be able to go all the way inside to find out what is truly right for us and honor that--regardless of what other's responses may be. That's not always easy to do... in fact, sometimes it doesn't even occur to me to do so, but you know what they say about practice  :;):

Take gentle care,
Rain


#10 Lis

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Posted 24 November 2003 - 10:30 AM

We have to be able to go all the way inside to find out what is truly right for us and honor that--regardless of what other's responses may be.


So true. But you know, I've found that it's the hardest for me to say 'no' when I actually know that I don't want to do something. I think that it stirs up more emotions for me than when I'm lukewarm about doing something, or don't care.

What I'm trying to do now is turn those emotions into strength that I can use to reinforce my 'no.' Instead of allowing them to overwhelm me and make me cave, I'm trying to use them to help me be assertive.

Does that make sense?

-Lis


#11 Laney

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Posted 24 November 2003 - 10:56 AM

I've found that it's the hardest for me to say 'no' when I actually know that I don't want to do something


Yes, I feel the same way.  This weekend was my first weekend back to work in months.  I was scheduled saturday night and monday night, and they asked me to work sunday to fill in.  I didn't want to, my husband had asked me to not pick up extra shifts, but did I say no?? You better believe I was working for them sunday night.  I was so afraid if I said no they'd think I wasn't a 'team player' or whatever.

One of these days, I'm going to grow a backbone!

xxoo

Laney


#12 Cira

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Posted 24 November 2003 - 01:47 PM

But you know, I've found that it's the hardest for me to say 'no' when I actually know that I don't want to do something.

Holy shit, Lis...I'd never thought about it before, but that's very true for me, too.  That ought to give me something to think about...



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