Why is it so hard for a woman to say no, and for it to be accepted?
No, shouldn’t need an explanation. No, should be able to be said at any time and be respected.
I get it, especially if you aim to please and care for your family. But how can you care for your family if you are exhausting yourself with all your yeses? Say no, so you can say yes when you need and want to!
Everything you say yes to requires your care and attention. What care will you be taking away from your family or yourself, if you must redirect it somewhere else? It helps to look at how you perceive the word, “no.” Is no, really being heartless or an act of care?
Saying no is powerful, and a great practice.
Embracing your boundaries empowers you to unlearn misogynistic socialization that most women learned at a young age. Look at it this way, Psychology Today says that girls are taught to be nice, emotional, and perceptive of other people’s feelings. On the other hand, Psychology Today describes that boys are socialized to be, “less attuned to people’s feelings, and to win.”
But it’s not just women who have trouble saying no, others may have trouble saying no, as well. This hints that there are many reasons you might have trouble saying no. Being a people pleaser is a good place to start when unraveling your incisive need to say yes.
Parenting is hard. And it’s likely your parents didn’t do it perfectly. Harley Therapy Counselling, says that different types of parenting could have turned you into a people-pleaser.
Here are some examples of parenting that might have left you on the right side of yes, according to the Harley Therapy Blog:
“Strict parenting where you were rewarded for meeting expectations and shown displeasure if you didn’t. Mixed message parenting, lenient one moment then demanding the next, where you decided it was best to conform over risk rejection. Distracted parenting where your caretaker suffered from a difficult relationship, stress, or depression, and you learned to fit their needs over becoming another stress for them. Unresolved parenting where your parent has not solved their personal issues with their own parents and thus played out their faulty dynamics with you. Insecure parenting where a parent doesn’t love themselves and uses their child to shore up their self-esteem, leaving you pressured to make your parent feel good.”
Your inability to say no isn’t your fault. It’s a compounded reaction to your environment, socialization, and how you were raised. So don’t blame yourself, if a recent ‘yes’ landed you in a sticky situation.
When To Say No?
Boundaries. Say no, when a request is beyond the boundaries you have set between yourself and others. Say no, when it doesn’t feel good to say yes. Honor your peace.
Saying no goes beyond saying it to the family; however, say it at any time a request makes you uncomfortable. When or if you are approached in the street and hit with a, “hey can I take you lunch?” Or, “What’s your number?” Just say no. Don’t bother saying you have a significant other. You don’t have to justify your disinterest.
How To Say No.
Don’t hedge. Don’t try to soften it up. For example, “Hey Courtney, give me $20 I’ll pay you back on Thursday.” Your response: “No, I can’t do that at this time.”
Practice saying no. Be confident. Your no is your peace, your self-respect. You taking care of yourself.
Don’t know if you should say no, picture what your greediest self would say? Go with that, just be polite. You got this.
If saying yes puts you out, or causes you to stress, take the time to think out it. If you truly want to say yes, but it’s not within your means, communicate that.
Why You Should Say No, Much More Often.
Everyone is trying to have their needs met. But if women were socialized to meet the needs of others, then we must be extra vigilant that our yeses truly serve our well-being. If your no is met with questions or belligerent comments, stop the conversation by not responding. You can also try, “putting the question back on them.”
Psychology Today says men aim to win. If they need to engage you in a conversation with questions that make you uncomfortable, they will because they want to win. But it’s not just a gender thing, almost everyone aims to win. Meaning your all-woman work environment can come with the same issues.
The key to responding to people who want to win is to want to win yourself...not to please.
And if you’re not comfortable putting yourself first, then try looking at it another way. A happier you will mean a happier family, significant other, and friends. Say no, for them. If that’s where you’re at, that's completely okay...for now.