There is one word that’s more important to your wellness than all the sleep, antioxidants and cardio combined: “no.” The simple two-letter hard-hitter has the power to help you re-prioritize your life, connect with yourself, nurture relationships, and ditch stress.
We caught up with wellness blogger and THE/THIRTY contributor Geri Hirsch who shared how she learned how to say “no” with grace and gumption.
1. Separate Yourself from Your Emotion
Articulating the word “no” is not that hard. What creates a barrier for us is the emotion behind the word. Most likely, you’ve loaded this little syllable with thoughts along the lines of “if I decline this work project, no one will ever reach out again,” or “if I don’t go to that dinner party they’ll think I’m a bad friend.” It’s important to acknowledge these statements as what they are—hypotheticals fueled by emotion. Hirsch experienced similar fears of saying “no” in the past. “I don't like to disappoint people,” she explained.
Recognizing your fears or insecurities as entities separate from you is the first step in a clear and self-benefitting decision making.
2. Create Your Own “No” Barometer
It’s also helpful to create a standard of acceptance, or a barometer that helps you decide when to say “yes” or “no.” When faced with an opportunity or situation she’s unsure about, Hirsch considers two things:
“1. If that event/opportunity/party was right this second, would I want to do it?
2. Would this seriously improve mine or someone I love's life?”
Everyone’s barometer may look different. If you’re focused on building a business you may be seeking exposure; if you’re intent on testing your comfort level socially you might challenge yourself to go to events outside of your normal routine. Plus, you can always change your standard as life evolves. The most important thing is that when you’re faced with something you’re uncertain about, you keep your key priorities top of mind and let them guide you.
3. Decline Gracefully
Even if you know you’re staying true to your main priorities, it can still feel daunting to decline opportunities without feeling off-putting. Hirsch has a few tips that make the process easier. “I think honesty is the best policy and being as personal as possible. Pick up the phone if the host is a friend. If you're simply burnt out, let them know—they'll likely understand. Ask if you can make it up to them on X date,” she suggests.
4. Embrace Your Freedom
Finally, let the freedom of “no” be your biggest motivator. Turning down opportunities that didn’t fit her criteria has allowed Hirsch “more time, fulfillment, sleep, and less stress!” Keep in mind that it may take time to get feel fully comfortable with the process. “Saying ‘no’ is definitely a transition, and so is a lighter schedule, fewer acquaintances and less invites to cool parties. But if you're putting yourself first by saying ‘no,’ it's a transition that's worth any discomfort or weirdness,” Hirsch says.
Have you seen a shift in your life when turning down opportunities that don’t speak to your priorities or intentions? We would love to hear your take in our Facebook group.