How to refuse something: 4 helpful questions to ask yourself for a positive change

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How to refuse something: 4 helpful questions to ask yourself for a positive change
Source: https://www.npr.org/2020/05/03/849732562/some-timely-advice-on-mental-de-cluttering-from-author-sarah-knight?t=1636358391664

Nowadays, it is getting harder and harder to accept the word ‘’no’’. People take refusal as a personal offense and turn it into an actual fight. You might be asking yourself ‘’why are they doing this?’’ and, honestly, I do this too.

Growing up, it was so hard for me to learn to refuse others and do what I really want. As I know a lot of other people might struggle with this too, this is the process I went through and a few questions that might help you.

  1. Why do I always say ‘’yes’’?

This is the best question to start asking yourself if you want to develop your skill to refuse others’ proposals. As with the majority of things we experience in life, the first step is understanding the actual problem behind it. In this case, it is our need to say ‘’yes’’.

Now, from my personal experience, I can tell you that it is mostly based on the environment you grew up in. But the actual reason may depend on each person’s situation.

In my childhood, I had developed a dependent behavior primarily on my mother, but overall on my whole family. For me, what they said or suggested was always right. Therefore, there was no doubt for me that when they proposed something or asked me if I agree with them, I would always say yes.

Unfortunately, it took me a while to understand that things are not actually right in my mindset. But once I understood that I am not only entitled, but I actually should be encouraged, to have my own opinions, everything has changed.

My advice is to analyze the situation and to understand the reason behind your behavior and once you do that, you will most likely understand that saying ‘’no’’ from time to time is not actually that bad.

  1. Why is it better to learn to say ‘’no’’?

For this question, all you have to do is to take yourself back to all the uncomfortable moments you had because you simply could not refuse. For me, there were a lot of them.

Let me give you an example. Imagine this context: you had plans with your best friends, scheduled for some time already, you were ready to leave to meet with them, all dressed up and prepared, just waiting ten more minutes so everyone will be ready, you are excited for that.

Now, all of a sudden, a relative is calling and says that is expecting you to come over. Because family is always more important you have to cancel your plans with your friends on short notice, even though this is not what you actually want to do.

You want to say that you don’t want to go to that family meeting, but you just don’t know how. This is the moment when knowing how to say ‘’no’’ comes in handy. Therefore, you realize that it is time to learn how to say that powerful word.

  1. How should I start saying ‘’no’’?

This was the part that I truly found difficult. It is something to want to say it, but it is another thing to actually say it. What I can advise you is to take small steps.

If you don’t think you are ready, you don’t have to start refusing everything from the beginning. What is really important is that you start with at least some situations. For example, if you are going out and you don’t like the place you are going to, do not be afraid to say or suggest going somewhere else.

In fact, in the beginning, it is not even necessary to say directly ‘’no’’ to anything, you might find other formulas until you are ready to say ‘’no’’.

You can start by saying ‘’I actually don’t feel like doing this, would you mind if we will do this some other time?’’ or ‘’Right now I am not comfortable in these circumstances and I don’t want to go anymore, but I will let you know if anything changes’’ or any other phrase that makes you feel better expressing yourself.

Once you do this first step of acknowledging that you don’t want to be in a certain context or you don’t want to do any kind of activity, the word ‘’no’’ will slowly become easier to say and accept.

  1. How to handle people’s reactions when you refuse them?

As I said in the beginning, there are many people who are having trouble accepting refusal from others. Even though our refusal creates a negative reaction, it does not mean that it is actually our fault that they feel that way.

What I want to say by this is that they have this kind of behavior most probably because of some of their issues that they do not want to solve or have trouble accepting. You might understand them, you might even help them, but trust me that it is not your fault that they are feeling this way.

Once you receive a negative reaction when you refuse someone, all you have to do is to understand that you did what was best for you, you kept yourself out of an uncomfortable situation, you wanted to feel good with yourself.

Therefore, no matter the reaction anyone is having, as long as you said ‘’no’’, because this is what you felt to say, and it didn’t truly hurt someone, you made the right choice.

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