I don't know how to say no: how to learn to refuse people

 What our absolute reliability can turn into and how to deal with it, says the psychologist.


I don't know how to say no: how to learn to refuse people

If I say no, what if my loved one turns away from me? Or will the boss get mad at me? Or hurt my family? Almost everyone faces such questions. But for some, the inability to say "no" turns into a painful habit that interferes with life.


Why Some People Can't Say No

Most of our habits are formed in childhood, the inability to say “no” is no exception. It all starts with the fear of rejection . At an early age, when the child is not yet able to independently fulfill his basic physiological needs, rejection by the mother can lead to death. If, in the event of a child's refusal, the mother begins to get angry, intimidate or cause a feeling of guilt, then an erroneous strategy is formed: “I refused - my mother is angry - I’m bad - my mother will leave me - I will die”.


Failure to say no is an indicator of a lack of personal boundaries. They are laid down before early adolescence, but can be adjusted later.


Traumatic are not only situations when the parents themselves violate the boundaries of the child, but also if the parents did not protect him, in case of violation by strangers.


An example of how personal boundaries can be violated in childhood: the child did not want to give his toy to another, because of this the children had a fight. Mom is angry with her child and says that he should not be so greedy, because of him she has to sort things out with another mother.


If in childhood parents systematically violate personal boundaries or do not help to defend them, a person develops a strategy “you need to be comfortable and good, only then they will love me”. Hence the inability to refuse. People are afraid to defend their boundaries so as not to spoil relationships with family , friends, colleagues or bosses.


Not knowing how to say no is a problem? Is it worth fighting this?

People rarely realize that the problem lies in the inability to refuse. Most often they are worried about the fact that they cannot manage their lives, there is no time for family or hobbies, or new relationships take up all their free time.


Example: You can't say no to your boss when he asks you to stay late at work. There are rare exceptions - force majeure, where your participation is necessary. But if this happens regularly, then your personal boundaries are violated. What can the inability to refuse in this situation turn into for a person? He will work late, family relationships will deteriorate, or he will not have a personal life at all. And at some point, professional burnout may occur, since there is no time to replenish strength and resources.


There are situations when we are afraid to refuse specifically to one person - for example, mother, boss or husband, while in other areas we do it with ease. In this caseyou need to figure out what such a terrible thing will happen if this person is offended, what kind of pain or trauma in this area.


How do you know when your yes is a problem? Does everyone need to be denied?


Each of us has certain areas of life: work, relationships with a partner, parents, friends, health, hobbies. And when one of them begins to negatively affect the others and cause discomfort by this, it's time to sound the alarm.


Example: you have a relationship, but you have stopped meeting friends, doing hobbies, and also cannot fully engage in work. If your partner takes up all of your living space, this could signal a problem.


Another example: your mom may come unexpectedly , she has a key. You are afraid to start relationships with men because you can get into an awkward situation. This is also a problem.


The ability to refuse and define your personal boundaries is a basic need for a healthy person. This does not mean that you need to sharply refuse everyone and always. Personal boundaries that are too tight are not the best option either. You need to build them flexible.


How to learn to say no to people

1. Know your personal boundaries

To learn to refuse people, you need to understand what is acceptable and convenient for you at the moment, and what is not. Write down the key areas of your life (health, work, hobbies, relationships, etc.) in your notebook. In front of each sphere, formulate life rules that are comfortable for you . For example: I don’t meet on the street, I don’t work on weekends, or I only reply to messages until 20:00. It is important to write on paper by hand, not to type on a computer. Thus, we connect the body to the workings - this is an important element of the psyche.

When formulating rules, do not forget about situationality. For example, before a long-awaited date, a friend calls you and cries: she once again broke up with her man and demands that you come to calm her down. You can comfort her over the phone and ask her to wait until morning. After all, now you are busy, and tomorrow you can listen. Another situation: a friend calls you with the same problem, but at the moment you have no plans and you are free. Then rely on your feelings and desires.

When you learn your personal boundaries, it will be easier for you to defend them.

2. Start small and track the sensations each time and realize that the world has not collapsed

If you've often said “yes” before, you don't need to chop off the shoulder right away. If you immediately refuse people who are important to you, then there is a risk of not withstanding the anxiety . Start small. For example, someone asks to stand in line in front of you, refuse the person and say: "I'm in a hurry." And watch your condition, pay attention to the fact that the world has not collapsed, nothing terrible has happened. You did it.

3. Give yourself time to think.

If you get an offer, do not immediately say yes or no. Take a break to process the information. So you can adequately assess whether you really want it, whether it will be comfortable for you. Once the habit is developed, it will take a couple of seconds to make some easy decisions.

4. Offer an alternative

For example, you are tired after work, and on the weekend you want to lie on the couch. But your husband is planning a little trip for two days. You can offer an alternative - to lie down on Saturday, and go on Sunday. Or choose a passive vacation for two days, where you can lie in your room for several hours.

Another example: a friend calls you and asks you to lend her money for a purchase, she lacks 10 thousand rubles. And you only have 10 thousand rubles on your card, and you need them. You can explain the situation and offer a smaller amount, for example a thousand.This way you won't offend anyone and keep your personal boundaries.

5. Link to others

If your boss forces you to work on weekends, you can refer to your husband's planned trip out of town. Referencing an authority figure is easier than taking the blow of resentment at yourself. There will be no reason to be angry with you.

6. Use modern technology

When you first start to form the habit of saying “no”, you can get anxious about every call. Make a rule to turn on the silent mode on your phone from 23.00 to 7.00 so that no one bothers you at night.

When you call back on the missed number in the morning, the situation will already be resolved or will not be so acute. It is important to remind yourself that the world has not collapsed and you have every right not to run to the phone at the first sound of the message. This way you can gently build personal boundaries .

7. Stick to your rules of life

Do not be afraid to tell people about your boundaries (from point 1) and stick to them. For example, if you are asked to borrow money, then you can always refer to that you have a rule not to lend and it applies to everyone. Refusal, justified by the rule, will be more easily perceived, because you do not lend not to a specific person, but to everyone.

When you learn to defend your boundaries, you will notice that other people will respect you more, and the quality of life will significantly improve. If you cannot cope with this problem on your own, and it spoils your life, then it is better to consult a specialist.

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