Embracing the freedom of saying “No.”

Does the thought of telling someone “No” make you feel guilty? Do you think about all the negative ways that someone may perceive you if you said “no” to them? The word itself is scary for many women to use, no matter how accomplished they are in their personal and professional lives.

Time and time again, you may find yourself saying, “I need to make choices that allow me to have balance in my life to avoid burnout.” Maybe saying “Yes” all the time is the thing that is preventing you from having the balance in your personal and professional life that you’ve been wanting? Your life may be pleading with you to change some of your “yeses” into “noes.”

Think of saying “No” as an act of loving and taking care of yourself. Professional women may feel the need to make themselves available to take care of everyone else’s needs, at work, and in their personal lives. Achieving balance is finding a way to say “no” without the guilt of hurting or offending someone. If you experience a sense of guilt when you prioritize your needs, try to understand why you feel that way.

Think back to when you were a child; what were the messages you received when you said “No” to others? Did those messages leave you feeling selfish and ashamed for needing to prioritize your needs? Maybe you grew up seeing women in your family place everyone else’s needs before theirs. Maybe you grew up seeing women in your family place everyone else’s needs before theirs, making it easy for you to normalize the behavior.

Today I want you to find the balance between saying “yes” and saying “no.” Say “No” to the things that drain you and say “Yes” to the things that feed your mind, body, and spirit. Know that it is okay to be selfish with your time, and saying “No” allows you to nurture yourself while staying true to who you are. Saying “No” is setting healthy boundaries so that when you say “Yes,” you are showing up 100% intentional, focused, and present.

Saying “No” may be challenging because you may have never embraced the idea of prioritizing your needs. Have some pre-planned responses for different scenarios that you practice saying aloud, so you feel comfortable stating them.

Normalize your need to take some time to think about a request before responding. If you need to, write down the pros and cons of the proposal before deciding whether you will respond with a “Yes,” or a “No.” Prioritize yourself today to begin your journey towards balance.

I am a clinical psychologist in Los Angeles and offer complimentary 15 min initial consultations. If you are a professional woman seeking counseling, you may click here to schedule an appointment.

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