A simple word that will improve your life!

A quick and effective way to reduce unnecessary stress in your life is to learn to say “no”.

The inability to say “no” is often rooted in childhood where we had to be “good” to get the approval/love/affection of our parents. If our parents used humiliation as a way of controlling us,this creates an inadequate sense of self-worth which in turn means that we have probably a visceral fear of the imagined reaction or disapproval that we believe saying “no” will create.

What lies beneath this is the fundamentally flawed believe that, “I can manipulate this person into loving me by being compliant, by being “nice”.” The reality is the opposite; we just leave ourselves open to manipulation.

By saying “yes” we fill our lives with what is essentially an empty sense of busy-ness. We can even gain a temporary sense of importance, a sense of being needed.

This results in us spending time doing things that in our hearts we are not happy to do, which in turn creates a sense of anger and resentment. We can even find ourselves taking out this anger on the wrong person (our partner) or acting out our resentment in a damaging passive-aggressive way

The most detrimental effect of this is that we are left without the time we need for the vital work of taking care of ourselves, which quickly leaves us feeling stressed, anxious and out of balance as we are unable to manage or enjoy other more important relationships in our lives.

So what can we do?

Firstly, remember life is short and this is not a rehearsal so get clear about all the time you waste pleasing others. Now imagine that time as yours. Think of the positive impact it would have, how it would give you time to dedicate yourself to things that are important to you.

Tune into your bodily sensations: The most important aspect of this is to connect to your body and thus your feelings in the moment. Does saying “yes” create any discomfort in your body? If so, where? How does it feel? Is it a tightening, a tension, a knot in the stomach? Notice also your thoughts and your feelings. Ask yourself, “Am I doing this for me or because I am afraid to lose approval?” Be kind to yourself. Don’t start beating yourself up for seeking approval; just notice your thoughts and feelings with open curiosity and kindness. You are doing your best! If you have difficulty sensing your body then practice regularly a body scan meditation to increase your connection with your bodily sensations.

Practice saying no: Imagine a person/situation to which you would like to say “no.” Find yourself a quiet moment, take a couple of deep breaths and visualize yourself saying “no.” Start small. If, for example, you feel that you need time to think then you might want to try such strategies as,  “I have to check my diary; I’ll get back to you tomorrow on that.” Or “Could you send me that by email.” See it as an interesting project – your attitude always one of open curiosity and kindness.

Good  Luck.

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