Time management tips sometimes require courage! Do you struggle to say No to important people in your life? Asking yourself 3 questions can keep your day from disappearing beneath the dead weight of others’ demands.
Sometimes, of course, refusing to engage in low-priority activities and commitments is quite straightforward. At these times, you clearly and easily set limits. And the results speak for themselves. You exercise positive control over much of your day, your personal effectiveness increases and you relate with ease.
Every so often, however, a refusal may get caught in your throat. Your chest tightens, and you would rather do anything than say No to that certain someone.
How do you approach that problem? This quick quiz can broaden your understanding of how you currently handle stressful demands. Tally up how often you resort to each of these actions, using “0” for “never” and 5 for “always”:
“When I feel scared to death to say No, I:”
1. Criticize myself for feeling so apprehensive.
2. Push my misgivings aside and charge blindly ahead.
3. Mutter about how impossible the other person is.
4. Hint that my refusal is the other person’s fault.
5. Postpone the big talk until the ideal time, like never.”
If your score is 0-5, congratulations! Saying No isn’t much of a problem for you. (Unless you’ve figured out yet another self-defeating strategy!) If your score is higher, however, your difficulty saying No probably hurts you more than you realize. Anger simmers, and relationships and self-esteem become more fragile. Over time, anxieties compound. Paralyzing fear takes quite a toll.
But there’s another way you can move beyond this impasse. You can identify and break outdated promises you made to yourself a long time ago!
Here are 3 powerful questions that can help you break the stranglehold that fear exerts on your assertiveness.
Ask them of yourself whenever you feel yourself freeze up. And allow the answers to bubble up, as you listen to each response. They will be full of useful information!
3 Questions to Move You Beyond Fear
- What is the origin of your fear of saying No?
- What circumstances made silence your best choice long ago?
- What losses do you experience when you fear saying No?
Compassionately envision yourself as a child. Chances are, your options were quite limited. Now affirm how much stronger and more autonomous you currently are. Can you think of any friendly message you can offer to the part of you that confuses past with present?
Maybe your course of action really was your safest option in years past. At any rate, it helps to understand how your current difficulty is based in approaches that once made a lot of sense to you. You are then much less likely to judge yourself as weak. Also, consider how circumstances have changed. The more specific you are, the more options you give your rational mind in order to explore new pathways.
This is an excellent time to logically assess the pros and cons of your current approach. Take a careful look at all the ways that your old promise to yourself holds you back. This will motivate you as you work to replace outworn responses with more appropriate ones.
These 3 apparently simple questions can revolutionize your relationship with fear! Isn’t your time and your life worth this investment? The more consistently you use compassion and realism to dissolve old distortions, the more real power you will exercise over your life and your time.
So, how will you say No when it matters the most?
© Copyright 2011 Paula Eder, Ph.D.