Say No Without Feeling Guilty – Part I
Are you the “Yes” person? Do you often feel guilty when others ask for favors or for volunteers to help out at your kid’s school?
Do you find yourself giving in when your boss insists that you work the weekend to make sure that special project gets done and “you are the only one who he trusts to do it?”
Do you feel resentful when it’s just “expected” that YOU are the only one in the family who seems to take responsibility for the house, the laundry, the meals, the chores and keeping the family schedule…even if you too hold down a full-time job? Or you are a full-time Stay-At-Home Mom or Dad and other members of the family seem to think that because you don’t have a job outside the home that you are at their beck and call for anything that they need without any regard to your feelings or even thinking to “ask” you first if you are able to run their errands, take care of elderly parents, or entertain business clients?
Do you feel overly responsible for your adult children, (and I know there are exceptions) and feel compelled to go above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to “helping them get back on their feet” even though they show little interest or motivation to help around the house, obtain employment or look for possible opportunities and solutions?
There are many more examples I could give, but these are some of the ones that recently have come into my peripheral vision in talking with friends, clients and from the conversations on facebook.
People are having a difficult time saying no, because of various reasons, but mostly because they don’t want to be the kind of person who is not willing to be a team player, come to someone’s rescue, be seen as lacking compassion or being a “nice” person. And that’s not all bad! I know! Cuz I’m a chronic but recovering “people pleaser”!!! But when does this line of reasoning start to be unhealthy? Where do we draw the line with “niceness” and start using “assertiveness” which allows each party to feel as if they are respected and honored.
Doreen Virtue in her book, Assertiveness for Earth Angels defines “assertivesness” like this:
“Assertiveness means that you’re aware of your feelings and opinions and that you state them to yourself and others in a way that respects other people’s rights. An assertive person is kind, peaceful, and gentle yet never apologizes for his or her feelings, because feelings are to be honored and respected.”
I believe that Assertiveness, in it’s best form, is the key to easily being able to decide without “guilt” to do or not to do, commit or not to commit. Assertiveness allows both party’s feelings to be taken into account, so that whatever the circumstance, both parties see the other’s point of view and respects it. Even if they don’t agree, at least they know where the other is coming from and honors it.
As I have said in other posts, “being nice” and a “people pleaser” I think is an issue of self-esteem, even though as a people pleaser for most of my life, I really didn’t think of myself in those terms. The following quote gave me some comfort though and made me realize that for some situations, you have to muster up a whole lot of courage no matter what level of self-esteem you possess.
“It is a mistake to look at someone who is self assertive and say,’It’s easy for her, she has good self-esteem.’ One of the ways you build self-esteem is by being self-assertive when it is not easy to do so. There are always times when self-assertiveness requires courage, no matter how high your self-esteem.” – Nathaniel Branden:
So, how do I say “No” Without Feeling Guilty?
In Part II, I will cover “5 Steps to Saying “No” Without Feeling Guilty” that will help in any given situation that is easy to implement and remember!