Last week, we discussed how practicing the art of self-care IS your duty. Learning how to set boundaries at home and work helps you take care of YOU so you can take care of others. One valuable way to break your pattern of self-sacrifice is by learning how to gracefully say, “No.”
When you’re a chronic giver or helper, it’s really hard to tell people, “No.” Most of us don’t like to disappoint people. We avoid conflict when possible, and many people simply believe that taking care of one’s self is just plain selfish. These days, more and more people have started shifting their beliefs around self-care; personal health and well-being have become a part of people’s lives in the 21st Century. People are empowered when they can say, “No” to a request that is not absolutely necessary.
Please be aware of this important point: When you begin to set boundaries and start saying, “NO,” people may seem disappointed. Disappointment is a perception, and you’re NOT in charge of managing other people’s emotions.
To learn how to gracefully say, “No,” follow these three steps:
1. Buy Some Time
-Put space between the request and your answer. (Example: “I’ll need to get back to you,” or “I’ll need to sleep on it.”)
-Let the person know that you may NOT be able to commit. (Example: “I’ve made the decision to limit the commitments I make, so I may not be able to do this.”)
2. Do a Gut-Check
-Take three deep breaths.
-Ask yourself, “On a scale from 1-10, how much do I really want to do this?”
-If you’re still unsure, ask yourself, “If I knew this person wouldn’t be angry, disappointed, or upset, would I say “No?”
3. Tell the Truth Directly…with Grace and Love
-BE HONEST about how you feel without over-explaining. (Example: “I feel bad about letting you down, but I need to…”)
-Tell the truth directly in 1-2 concise lines.
-Ask how you can provide support. (Only do this when you have an ethical responsibility to someone or a situation, such as volunteering, promises, agreements, etc.)
When you set healthy boundaries at work and home, you will find that you’re happier, more productive, and feel more present in your life. You will notice that your cup will feel fuller, and you will be more resilient in times of stress. It’s vital for you to make a difference in your own life first, so you can make a difference in the lives of others. Be an empowered educator in the 21st Century!
If you’d like to learn more about self-care, check out Cheryl Richardson’s book, The Art of Extreme Self-Care.