I used to be the worlds worst at not being able to tell someone no. I still am sometimes, not going to lie. I was your girl if you needed someone to do something for you. I would literally pile myself high with all the extras that others needed help with. I was the one that everyone went to when they needed a shift covered, because they knew I couldn’t say no when they asked me. I would share my notes with people who didn’t make it to class, go watch kiddos for someone even when I had other plans, and rush over to help someone even if it meant I was not helping myself. I was the person that would agree to serve on multiple boards and committees and agree to fundraisers and events just because they needed extra hands. I agreed to all sorts of plans all the time, and stressed myself out over being able to keep them. I was overrun with not being able to say a single word…NO.
Now, you might be wondering why a grown women such as myself might have had a hard time saying no. If you feel like you can’t understand why one little word is so hard to say, then you don’t understand the life and mind of an anxious person. It’s not that easy to say that one little word when you are an anxious person that analyzes, frets, and second guesses every person, decision, relationship, facial expression, event, etc. Yes, my anxiety is manageable NOW but it hasn’t always been.
For the anxious worriers of the world who are scared that they will hurt someones’ feelings or let someone down when they say that one little word, you will understand that NO is a very really hard word to say. Anxious people do not want to see the face of someone that they feel will be disappointed, because it means they will constantly worry over it. Anxious people will truly fight the urge to try to make-up with that person for what they feel was a let down when they said no. In reality, saying no to doing something for someone might be a let down to that person that really needs the help. However, that does not mean that they feel let down with you personally. Remember that people! Yes, that person might actually need help and be upset not to get it. No, that does not mean it was your responsibility to help them. Remember, if someone does get upset because you say no, more than likely they are not upset at YOU they are upset because of THEIR situation.
An anxious person might also feel like they need to volunteer to do something in the future for that person, if they do say the dreaded NO word. Why? Because they will want to fix the feeling of the previous letdown. You might hear an anxious person say that they can’t this time, but that they want to help you do x, y, z the next time. This is their way to feel better about having to tell someone no. With perspective and understanding of my anxiety, I am aware that I do not have to fix or make-up with anyone for saying no. However, it took a lot of intentional practice for me to combat the guilt I felt with saying no to the logic that it was okay to say no when I needed to. I taught myself that I did NOT need to feel bad about telling someone I couldn’t do something.
As an anxious person, I learned to develop the right perspective in order to not overload myself with others’ favors. Of course, I WANT to help others as much as I can when I can, but not at my own expense. Remember people, you are the only person in the whole world that can 100% have your best interests in mind at all times. This means you have to look after yourself and make sure you are not stressing yourself out or over exerting yourself mentally or physically.
I had to learn to not feel guilty over needing to tell others that I wanted to help but couldn’t. I had to learn that I needed to put myself (and my family) first sometimes and that it was OKAY to do this. Invest in yourself people. If you are already stressed and overwhelmed trying to manage your OWN stuff, then do yourself and others a favor and say no to THEIR stuff. How can you possibly help them if you are overwhelmed with what you have on your own plate?
Next time you are asked to help with something, I challenge you to ask yourself these questions:
Prioritize what YOU need to do, and then see if there is any wiggle room for time to help others. Say NO if you simply can’t help do that favor. It will be okay. You are meant to do a lot of things….but NOT everything. If your BFF calls and asks you to pick-up her kiddos on the way home, and you are going the opposite way for an appointment you need to be at do NOT say sure (unless of course it’s an emergency…but those are completely different). If it is going to cause you to change your plans, and add on extra stress, then just say that you would love to help but just can’t this time. You can say no in a polite way.
Even though I still say yes a lot of the time, it has helped my anxiety tremendously learning to say no some of the time. I now usually only say yes to things that I WANT to do and can do without extra stress.
I challenge you this week to stay strong and say no. It was the best thing for my anxiety when I learned to use that two letter word.
Until next time readers,
Hey all you awesome people reading my blog. I'm Ginger and this blog chronicles how I live my life fabulously with anxiety.