You’ve been working hard all day, and you’ve been fantasizing for a while now about a quiet evening at home with some takeout and your favorite movie. But as you reach for your coat, your phone chirps. It’s a friend, wanting to know if you can go out that night. You hesitate, staring at the text and as your friend keeps sending one message after another detailing who’s going to be there, and where you’re going to meet, you hit reply. Your fingers hesitate and finally tap out the ‘yes’ you don’t want to say, committing you to a night that sounds more exhausting than fun. Why is it so hard to say ‘no’ to people? ‘No’ is one of those difficult words we’d rather avoid but we should try saying this instead of No.
1. ‘No’makes us feel like we’re letting someone down
‘No’ feels like an open invitation to conflict
Believe it or not, there’s a better answer. By rephrasing ‘no’ or its counterpart ‘I can’t’ into ‘I don’t,’ you can cut off protests and counterarguments at the knees. This very simple phrase puts not only the power back in your hands, but changes the way you think about yourself, and how you handle requests of your time and energy.
Think about it.
“I can’t come out tonight” tends to create a response of “why not?”. That puts you on the defensive and in a position where someone might talk you into going anyway.
If you say, “I don’t have the money to go out right now: I’m saving for that trip.”
Or “I don’t go out when I have work the next day; I need my sleep.” You give an inarguable reason for why you can’t go. And it serves as a reminder that you’re holding to a goal that you value and draws a line that you will not cross.
2. Why does ‘I don’t’ work?
1. It sets a firm boundary. You’re no longer inviting argument or to be worn down by repeated requests.
2. It serves as a powerful reminder of your goals. You’re saying not just no – but why. You’re defining what you value.
3. It’s an exercise in self-control. You’re reminding yourself that you made a goal and that you’re sticking to it.
4. It drives powerful self-talk. By telling yourself that you don’t do things rather than you won’t do things, you’re positively redefining your boundaries. You’re telling yourself that YOU are every bit as important as the person doing the asking and that it’s worth taking care of your needs.
5. It’s empowering. You’ve just put control back in your hands, meaning you’re in charge of your destiny.
It’s no wonder that ‘I don’t’ should be used to replace ‘no’ every chance you get. There’s no need to be caught up in the world of overwork, overdoing, and being overwhelmed when two little words have the power to change your day.
About Tirglas | Self Help | Personal Development |
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