How Do You Say No Without Feeling Guilty?

I say Yes a lot. I bet you do too.

I like to say Yes because I’m interested in so many things. I like people, I’m social and I want to help. Maybe sometimes I say yes out of guilt, guilty – ness ugh, or how people will view me if I say no.

I say yes out of obligation.

For these reasons I say, Yes too much. I started thinking I need to say No more, but in reality I’m saying No all the time. I say No like a boss. Wait what??? Slow down.

I realized that I say No all the time after I read this blog about this book Essentialism   The reality is, “Saying YES to any opportunity by definition requires saying NO to several others.” So, see, I am really a big no-sayer. *strutting a little. *busting a move. *trying a moon walk. *falls over

But, what about this guilty thing?

Saying NO is very complicated. I have to decide what I really want. Then once I decide on that, I have to decide when to say a real No and how to say it. Not a default No by having said Yes to something else, and not a Warren Buffett, say no to everything no. I get to decide. So do you.

So, here I am, deciding that I have to say NO. Now, how do I do that with confidence and no bad feelings (I’m looking at you guilty feeling).

Make a policy.

Check this out from the Wall Street Journal:

In one experiment, 30 women, ages 22 to 53, undertook a 10-day wellness challenge involving goals like exercising more and eating more healthily. The women were divided into three groups: One was asked to use the “I don’t” strategy, another the “I can’t” strategy, and a third (the control group) was simply told to say no. 

While only 10% of the “I can’t” group stuck with their goal, 80% of the “I don’t” group were still using the strategy successfully 10 days later.

Begin by defining a priority (sleep more), name the sources of stress that interfere (such as evening work meetings), design a personal policy around it and then let others know: “I don’t take meetings after 6 p.m.”

Here are my policies:

I don’t eat sweets during the day.

I don’t eat cake.

I don’t get less than 8 hours of sleep.

I don’t say nasty things about my body.

I don’t get it right all the time.

The last one is the only one I can really bank on.

Let’s be grown-ups and set some policies.