The Subtle Art of Saying 'No'

We’ve all said ‘yes’ to something that we really didn’t want to do and regretted it later. We give ourselves lots of excuses as to why we say yes when we really want to say no – we don’t want to hurt the other person’s feelings, we don’t want the other person to be mad at us, etc. The truth of the matter is, in the moment, the ‘yes’ actually has nothing to do with the other person and everything to do with us. We say ‘yes’ in the moment because we don’t want to feel the discomfort of saying ‘no’. Although we may avert about 30 seconds of awkward discomfort by saying yes to the unwanted task, we end up enduring hours, days or even weeks of discomfort in anticipating the unwanted task, and may even feel resentful when the moment arrives and we have to actually carry it out. Is that drain in energy really worth the trade-off?

Although we typically think of time and money as valuable commodities, one of our most precious, and often overlooked, commodities is energy. Spent energy can be a major source of stress and frustration – especially when we’re not diligent about making sure that our energy is directed toward the right purposes. Yes, it can feel awkward to turn down a request from someone that we know, but each of those little energy leaks can add up to big energy drains if we’re not careful about setting limits.

The next time that you find yourself being confronted with an unwanted ask, ask yourself the following question: ‘In this moment, am I willing to accept the temporary discomfort of saying ‘no’ or the long-term discomfort of saying ‘yes’?’

This simple question can help put things in perspective and allow you to make a choice that helps preserve your energy and peace of mind. Future you will thank you.

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