The Power of No: How learning to say ‘no’ will improve your life

Sorry Elton, but ‘no’ actually seems to be the hardest word.

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It’s not easy being negative, feeling like you are letting somebody down, refusing to help them out. I hate saying ‘no’ – to friends inviting me somewhere, to work when I always want to impress, but most of all I hate saying ‘no’ when my health has got so bad, I have no other choice.

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I’m one of those people who loves to stay busy. I live a full, exciting life and my predilection to saying ‘yes’ opens doors – bringing me opportunities and fun experiences I wouldn’t have had if I sat at home.
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Recently, however, I’ve been feeling tired, a little sad and demotivated. I’ve realised that all my ‘yeses’ meant I overcommitted, that I was unable to do my best work or put all my energy into relationships because I was overstretched and exhausted.
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And I’ve felt so terribly guilty for saying ‘no’. Your friends get confused as to why you’re turning down a night out, a chance to spend time with them. But, you set a precedent by saying yes all the time. People expect more from you.
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Saying ‘no’ might bring guilt, it might make you and the other person uncomfortable, but it is important to understand how saying ‘yes’ might affect you down the line.
Only you can assess how much time you have to perform at your top level. And, when you respect your body and your mind’s limits, you’ll be more successful and appreciate those times you say ‘yes’ more.
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It makes sense, with lots of research finding that saying ‘no’ improves productivity – it frees up time, energy and focus, for the tasks you’re already committed to.

How to say ‘No’

Seems easy doesn’t it… N-n-n-o-o-o?

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But, if you’re anything like me, when I say ‘no’ to something, I feel like I have failed. I have failed to have it all, to do it all and to please everyone in the process.

My new tactic is, whenever I can feel a part of me not wanting to do something, I say a simple ‘no, thank you’. This way, you’re saying something without lies, guilt, baggage and excuses.

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As a society, we need to make it okay to say ‘I’m not feeling it’ or ‘I’m tired’ or just ‘I don’t want to’. So, I’ve been trying really hard to be honest when I say no.
I usually still offer an alternative or a raincheck, to help stop disappointment. Saying ‘no’ can just mean ‘not at the moment’.
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My advice would be to think about yourself, think about why you are feeling negative – is it a new job, a new house or a new stress that may be taking your time away from your usual busy life? That’s ok.
Prioritise the things that matter to you… and, only say yes, if you’d be truly unhappy by not going/doing that task.
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Look, saying ‘yes’ is easy, anyone can do it. A ‘no’ takes practice, courage and self-care.
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All photos were taken at my ‘happy place’, Budleigh Salterton

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