Tips for Saying "No"

Eileen Bailey Health Guide
  • Today's fast paced life leaves little time for relaxation. We move from one activity to the next without taking a few minutes for ourselves. For those suffering from anxiety, this overwhelming, hectic pace of life can exacerbate the feelings of fear.


    But, there may be fear of saying "no" when someone asks for your assistance. You may worry that others will judge you for your unwillingness to help, even if you don't feel you are able to. When dealing with anxiety, however, it is important for you to take care of yourself. The following are some suggestions to keep in mind when someone asks for your time or assistance:

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    1) Give yourself 24 hours to answer someone's request. If someone asks you to pitch in or help out, ask if you can get back to him or her tomorrow. This gives you some time to think about the request and determine if it will fit into your schedule and whether you are able to make the commitment.

    2) Are you saying "yes" because you want to do this or because you will feel guilty if you say "no"? When committing to provide assistance, make sure it is something you want to do and feel comfortable doing. You may feel guiltier not being able to follow through on your commitment than by saying "no" to begin with.

    3) Think about time constraints. Is this something you have time to do right now? Although this may be something you really want to do, if it does not fit into your schedule, you will not be able to provide your best effort. You will not be helping either yourself or the person asking if you are not able to give the time commitment it requires.

    4) Discuss before committing. Talk with your spouse or a friend before making a final decision. This may help you weigh your options and make a more informed decision.

    5) Think about your priorities. Does the current request fit in with your priorities in life? If your current goal is to spend more time with your family, will this commitment take away from that goal? Take the time to decide what is most important to you right now.

    6) How much time will this commitment take? Do you have that time to offer right now? Your answer may be, "I can help, but I can only offer 2 hours instead of all day." Accept that other needs in your life may need to take priority.

    7) Decide what other parts of your life may suffer or may need to be put on hold. Do you have other commitments that must be put off in order to accomplish this request? Are you willing to let these other commitments go for a period of time? Decide which are most important to you.

    8) Do you need to make modifications to the request? Many times we can offer assistance, but with modifications. For example, if you are asked to make cupcakes for a bake sale, can you possibly make less cupcakes or instead supply paper goods instead of baking. This way you can still be involved but the time commitment may be less.

    9) Saying "no" is better than "maybe." Answering with a maybe leaves people hanging and leaves you with one more thing in your mind. If you are not sure if you can commit, say "no." For most projects, if you change your mind, people will welcome your support later on.

  • 10) Be honest. If you have concerns about making a commitment, let the person asking know what your concerns are. Talking honestly with someone is always preferred.

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    Allowing yourself to say "no" when the situation calls for it can, in the end, lessen anxiety symptoms.



Published On: September 26, 2008