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Practical Self-Care: The Power of Saying No
Self-care Is More Than A Spa Day
There are so many ideas floating around concerning how to best practice self-care, but scented candles, massages, and bubble baths only go so far. If you want to take good care of yourself, take a cue from your toddler and start saying “No” every chance you get.
Transform Your Life With A Single Word
No is one of the shortest, most effective sentences in the English language. When you say no, you’re reinforcing the line between what is yours to control and what is the responsibility of others. It is a verbal defense from the onslaught of everything and everyone that seek to chip away at your boundaries. As long as you mean it when you say it, there is no further explanation needed.
As moms, feeling guilty is second nature. In many ways, being a modern mom is a “damned if we do, damned if we don’t” experience. There is no end to the stream of criticisms and expectations placed upon us. It’s enough to make you scream or worse fall into a pit of depression.
Saying yes to the whims of everyone around you is detrimental to your mental health. Therefore, you’ve got to become comfortable with saying no in order to preserve your sanity.
“ If you want to take good care of yourself, take a cue from your toddler and start saying ‘No’ every chance you get.”
How Saying No Protects You
This type of no is an appropriate and necessary means of protecting yourself. It’s not a license to be a disagreeable, selfish brat. This is a mature, thoughtful stance that healthy women take to exercise agency rather than live as victims.
You may hesitate to say no because it feels unloving. In reality, saying no shows love for yourself and others. When you are careful to always “let your no be no” (bible), you communicate to others that your word can be trusted. There is an implicit understanding that if they can respect your personal boundaries, you will respect theirs in turn.
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How to Say No Comfortably
The key to saying no comfortably is cultivating awareness.
How many times have you said yes to someone without considering how you really felt? And how many times have you felt resentment afterward?
The fact is, every time you’ve chosen to say yes in situations when you’ve had the freedom to say no has been your fault.
That is an uncomfortable truth to face, but you need to recognize how you’ve participated in your own victimization before you can walk in strength.
The good news is, it’s not too late to change your behavior.
The next time you’re asked (or told!) to do something, pause for 10 seconds before saying anything. Yes, it will be awkward, but it’ll become easier with practice.
Close your eyes to shut out stimuli around you and focus on your breathing. Pay attention to how your body feels.
Resist the temptation to act based on what you’ve done in the past or what you believe others want you to do. This is your chance to reconnect with your own desires.
If there is anything within you that is urging you to say no during this exercise, that is your response. Don’t try to rationalize it, don’t feel bad about it. Just say no.
You may be pressured to explain how you’ve arrived at your answer, but don’t do it. If you’ve been asked a question that can be answered with a yes or no, then responding with a no is sufficient.
Practice Saying No
The more you truthfully respond with the word no, the easier and more powerful your no becomes.
Say no to intruding neighbor. Say no to the presumptuous grandparents. Say no to the pushy salesman. Say no to the church committee. Say no to your children and say no to your spouse.
Say no every time a “yes” means you’d be sacrificing your own health.
Maintaining Healthy Boundaries Sets a Foundation for Healthy Relationships
You’re not doing anyone a favor by violating your own boundaries, so don’t do it.
The people who truly love you will understand. And if they don’t you must either 1) Retrain them to treat you differently or 2) Cut ties with them. There are no other options.
I can say from experience that sometimes choosing to say no when you’ve had a history of saying yes even when it hurt can lead to estrangement. You may be surprised to know that some of your dearest friends and relatives will have a hard time accepting that you are a mature woman capable of making your own choices.
This revelation can be painful, but the peace and freedom you’ll feel from being honest with yourself and others are worth it.
The good news is, enforcing your boundaries will make room in your life for healthy relationships with people who also have healthy boundaries.
Putting It Into Practice
When have you been saying yes when you should have been saying no? What’s your game plan for the next time you’re in that situation? Let’s chat about it below!
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