Every time we say NO, or think about saying NO, there are perceived risks that sometimes are powerful enough to stop us in our tracks.
But when you recognize the stumbling block and know the appropriate antidote, you’ll be far more likely to have the difficult conversations in your life and work that need to be had.
Here are 5 Mindset Remedies for Common Fears About Saying No:
1) Fear: I won’t be liked or respected.
Remedy: It’s easy to put the focus on other people, about the potential rejection that might come from setting a boundary. But I invite you to turn this around….are you liking or respecting yourself if you’re not drawing a line in the sand when it needs to be drawn? At the end of the day, yours is the only opinion that really matters.
Your heart will always feel empty and wanting for approval and acceptance unless you give this energy to yourself first. It doesn’t matter how highly people think of you or how many facebook friends you have or how much money you make, until you begin to treat yourself with the love and respect you want, nothing else that anyone else will give you will ever feel like enough.
Saying NO requires knowing your biggest commitments and being willing to bravely stand for them even when doing so is unpopular. That’s all your NO is, it’s taking a stand for your biggest commitments even when the people around you don’t understand. If you don’t like and respect yourself enough to do that, anything from anyone else will feel hollow.
2) Fear: The other person will be mad, upset, or disappointed.
Remedy: Yep, this can always happen anytime someone doesn’t hear what they want to hear. But over the long run, you’re always better off to invest in relationships where you can be honest.
Be real. There’s less stress. Less mess. Less drama. Maintaining a façade requires a lot of energy and effort. Energy I’d personally much rather spend on something else. Wouldn’t you?
Plus, you’re never responsible for how someone else feels. You are responsible for how you feel and they are responsible for how they feel.
Remember, they have a particular set of programming that informs what emotions may come up for them that have NOTHING to do with you. So say your piece and allow yourself to be at peace with allowing others to have the experience that they are choosing in the world.
3) Fear: I’ll feel guilty.
Remedy: One of my mentors, Jay Fiset, had this explanation about guilt: Guilt is what happens when we have a particular belief, yet our actions are not in alignment with that belief. There is a gap between our belief and behavior and guilt is what fills in the middle.
For example, let’s say I had a belief that “Good daughters always help their mothers.” Yet, when my mom calls to ask for help with a favor, I say NO. In such a case, I might feel guilty.
Why? Guilt is actually a way to punish ourselves for not having the behavior that is in alignment with our belief. And it’s a way of functionally trading that punishment for not needing to change EITHER the belief or the behavior.
The true solution for guilt is to create alignment between your belief and behavior. You can change one or the other. Usually, it’s the belief that needs changing. Sometimes awareness and making a new choice is all it takes to do that, other times a deeper process like what I do with clients is necessary.
In the case of my mom asking a favor, I might shift my belief about what it actually means to be a good daughter: “Good daughters love their moms unconditionally whether or not they choose to do another favor to help ever again.”
4) Fear: I’ll lose the relationship (which might cost me love, support, or money).
Remedy: It could happen. And if you’re not honest and proactive about setting this boundary, what will it be costing you in the meantime?
Sometimes we neglect to account for the personal cost of our time, energy, or money when a circumstance is left unaddressed.
When you are not in balance, this has tangible costs in many intangible areas of your life. And that can include your health, your family relationships, your mood, or even your ability to focus.
So worst case scenario, you lose the relationship because the person can’t handle you making space for yourself.
Guess what also just happened were this to occur?
You would’ve just freed up a whole chunk of energy and space for someone else to come into your life who will launch you forward in a more positive way that is in alignment with your highest and best good. Someone who WILL honor your boundaries and loves when you speak your truth.
Even a temporary loss makes space for something beautiful to happen. Sometimes we outgrow our relationships (even ones with family members) and that’s okay.
5) Fear: I don’t know what will happen (fear of the unknown).
Remedy: This is natural and normal in any circumstance where we feel out of control. Acknowledging that having the conversation is outside your comfort zone is a good place to start. This is totally okay. Just because you have some fear doesn’t mean you can’t do it.
First and foremost, making sure you set yourself up to be as safe as possible on all levels when having the conversation.
For example: Choose a place where you personally feel comfortable having the conversation. A public place will often keep explosive personalities in check more than private locations. Have the conversation over the phone if this is the only way you’ll feel comfortable.
If it’s an especially tough conversation, plan yourself some self-care after the conversation – schedule time to get a massage, a pedicure, take a bath or shower. However the person responds does not need to be something you take personally – so do something to validate and care for yourself regardless of the outcome.
Get yourself in the most positive mindset to have the conversation….the way I like to do this is by imagining that I’m connecting directly from my heart to theirs. And I envision sending universal love to the person through that channel I’ve imagined…a tube of white light…for a few minutes before we talk.
If nothing else, this puts me in a good frame of mind to be as neutral as possible. This way I can stay focused on delivering the information I need to them to hear, staying unattached to the outcome, and taking care of myself in the process.