How do you say "no"?

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blues_cruise

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How do you say "no"?
« on: May 14, 2019, 10:53:16 AM »
I often feel like I should say "no" to requests (usually from family) which I'm not on board with, but I've never learnt how to say no to anything and struggle to know what's reasonable and what's not. Generally I will stretch myself to the point of extreme stress and lack of sleep rather than risk inconveniencing someone else, but it's got to the point where I know I'm being walked all over. I've had learned helplessness for so long and major anxiety over social situations because people can be so unpredictable, but I acknowledge now that if people treat me unfairly then I can bark back at them. Basically I have more power to protect myself than I've been giving myself credit for, but I don't know how to bark or when it's appropriate to!

Does anyone know any good resources for learning how to say "no"? I was brought up to believe that unfair situations had to be tolerated and that there would be major repercussions (often lasting months) for not doing what I was told, but I know now that this isn't healthy. I don't know how to put a healthier approach into practice though.  :Idunno:

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Three Roses

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Re: How do you say "no"?
« Reply #1 on: May 14, 2019, 03:24:56 PM »
Humans are built to be social. Instinctively, primitive man banded together to form stronger communities, hunting parties, etc. We have developed to express our individuality but in ways that do not put our position in the "tribe" at risk. To behave in a way that puts us at risk of rejection is to risk abandonment and danger, putting our very survival in jeopardy.

So, it's tougher than most people out there realize, to learn to speak up and say no.

I found a few ways to resist people's insistence. One was to say, "I'll think about it," which worked most of the time. If asked again I could say no, and at least the person would realize I gave it consideration. Statements like, "that's not going to work for me", "I can't at this time", etc work for most situations where I am dealing with reasonable individuals.

For others, who had a feeling of entitlement to my time and servitude, I would use the Broken Record approach. So often we get drawn into discussions about why we "should" continue to act in ways that are beneficial to others but ultimately harmful to our own mental or physical health. The Broken Record allows you to avoid the pressure of a discussion, and goes something like this: "Yes, I've thought about your invitation/suggestion/demand, but that's not going to work for me at this time." (Avoid saying "sorry". You're not.  ;)) They'll inevitably come back with reasons why you should agree to their demands, and you can just repeat, "I understand your frustration, but that's not going to work for me," as many times and in as many forms as necessary before they give up. Try changing the subject, leaving, hanging up etc if they persist.

Best of luck to you in this.

Two very good books that helped me learn to express my feelings while still being respectful of others are "The Dance Of Anger" by Harriet Lerner (she has a series of these books on different subjects), and "How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk" by Elaine Mazlish and Adele Faber. This book has exercises to complete contained within it, and I found it was excellent not only for learning how to parent in an effective, peaceful and collaborative way, but also how to get along with others while still being true to myself.
« Last Edit: May 14, 2019, 09:48:09 PM by Three Roses »

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johnram

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Re: How do you say "no"?
« Reply #2 on: May 14, 2019, 05:06:28 PM »
I can relate, i was groomed to be a people pleaser, and put others needs before mine, its been a journey to change it.

Books have helped on assertive behaviour, but also trying out some assertive language In real life, and from there seeing it is fine to express myself and get my needs met, and in same light, saying "no" has become easier.  its a process, but really needed. 

good luck to you


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Kizzie

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Re: How do you say "no"?
« Reply #3 on: May 14, 2019, 07:22:11 PM »
Quote
I often feel like I should say "no" to requests (usually from family) which I'm not on board with, but I've never learnt how to say no to anything and struggle to know what's reasonable and what's not. Generally I will stretch myself to the point of extreme stress and lack of sleep rather than risk inconveniencing someone else, but it's got to the point where I know I'm being walked all over.

Quote
I struggle to know what's reasonable and what's not....I don't know how to bark or when it's appropriate to

FWIW it sounds like you do know but like so many of us here who have been taught to ignore our boundaries and feel guilty, selfish, bad ..... it's just difficult to put ourselves first.  Maybe somewhere to start is saying "No" to small things that will not upset the apple cart too much and then try bigger things once you get used to enforcing your boundaries more?   

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blues_cruise

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Re: How do you say "no"?
« Reply #4 on: May 28, 2019, 08:45:56 PM »
Thank you all for your advice, really helpful stuff for me to think about. It dawned on me last night that I don't even know why I worry about the effects of saying "no", since I'm the black sheep of the family anyway and can't really win either way! My mum's way of coping with my uNPD father was to submit to anything and everything he said, so I think I've still got that outdated survival mechanism in place.

Humans are built to be social. Instinctively, primitive man banded together to form stronger communities, hunting parties, etc. We have developed to express our individuality but in ways that do not put our position in the "tribe" at risk. To behave in a way that puts us at risk of rejection is to risk abandonment and danger, putting our very survival in jeopardy.

I'm reading a great book at the moment by Marisa Peer and that's exactly what she gets across. It explains the unwritten hierarchy in disordered families too. I certainly always knew that my place was to be seen and not heard.

FWIW it sounds like you do know but like so many of us here who have been taught to ignore our boundaries and feel guilty, selfish, bad ..... it's just difficult to put ourselves first.  Maybe somewhere to start is saying "No" to small things that will not upset the apple cart too much and then try bigger things once you get used to enforcing your boundaries more?

Yep I think so. Unfortunately I panic easily when faced with needing to be assertive too, which makes me all the more self-conscious about having to do it. Building up to it with little things probably is a good idea. I doubt I had a safe enough environment to start testing the word "no" when I was a toddler and I more than likely got shouted down and made to feel scared, so ingrained in me is probably the core belief that expressing anything that might inconvenience another person, however tiny, is dangerous. In fact, my physical reaction to it really is quite extreme (racing heart, tremors, etc.) so I think way back before I can remember I was made to feel terrified to show any defiance. I don't imagine for a second that uNF would have been sympathetic to toddler tantrums or crying. It helps in a way to realise this so that I don't blame myself too much, just need to do a bit of brain reprogramming so that I can cope a bit easier as an adult.
« Last Edit: May 28, 2019, 08:49:47 PM by blues_cruise »

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Rainagain

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Re: How do you say "no"?
« Reply #5 on: May 30, 2019, 11:57:08 PM »
I've met some people who just ignore or blank parts of conversations where they clearly feel their answer is no.

These are successful personable people, they just skip elements during conversation they dont fancy responding to and move on.

It might be an easier technique to practice than actually saying no.

They maintain momentum in interactions which is something else that needs practice, I cant do either, but I admire the skills.

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sanmagic7

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Re: How do you say "no"?
« Reply #6 on: June 02, 2019, 07:55:40 PM »
bc, i really related to your words about being shouted down, etc., so often that even the tiniest inconvenience toward another feels dangerous.  working on saying no, for me, has been a process.  along w/ that has been the idea that if someone asks me for something, i've got to do it 'right now' (i can hear my father's voice ringing in my ears as i wrote those words.)

i think what has also helped me w/ the idea of "when" it's appropriate to say 'no' has been checking in w/ someone else, either here or in real life.  i hadn't the faintest idea, except perhaps when i truly felt like i was in a dangerous situation, what types of requests, suggestions, etc. were ok to say 'no' to.  as i asked for guidance in this area, i began to be able to see more clearly where my boundaries belonged and what types of situations were edging over them.  then i was able to practice w/ more confidence as time went by. 

knowing and understanding our boundaries and rights as humans is something we should have been taught from the get-go.  re-wiring our brains takes time, patience, and practice.  best to you.  i'm better than i was at this, but, dang, it can be confusing.  love and hugs

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blues_cruise

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Re: How do you say "no"?
« Reply #7 on: June 11, 2019, 09:43:03 PM »
I've met some people who just ignore or blank parts of conversations where they clearly feel their answer is no.

These are successful personable people, they just skip elements during conversation they dont fancy responding to and move on.

It might be an easier technique to practice than actually saying no.

They maintain momentum in interactions which is something else that needs practice, I cant do either, but I admire the skills.

That's interesting, I wonder whether they successfully get the "no" through via tone of voice and reaction alone? Might be one to practise.  :)

bc, i really related to your words about being shouted down, etc., so often that even the tiniest inconvenience toward another feels dangerous.  working on saying no, for me, has been a process.  along w/ that has been the idea that if someone asks me for something, i've got to do it 'right now' (i can hear my father's voice ringing in my ears as i wrote those words.)

i think what has also helped me w/ the idea of "when" it's appropriate to say 'no' has been checking in w/ someone else, either here or in real life.  i hadn't the faintest idea, except perhaps when i truly felt like i was in a dangerous situation, what types of requests, suggestions, etc. were ok to say 'no' to.  as i asked for guidance in this area, i began to be able to see more clearly where my boundaries belonged and what types of situations were edging over them.  then i was able to practice w/ more confidence as time went by. 

knowing and understanding our boundaries and rights as humans is something we should have been taught from the get-go.  re-wiring our brains takes time, patience, and practice.  best to you.  i'm better than i was at this, but, dang, it can be confusing.  love and hugs

It's like trying to get somewhere in a canoe without being given a paddle. Yeah, we should have been taught these skills from an early age and I'm angry that I wasn't. I was shamed for being 'shy' whilst being actively encouraged to never stick up for myself in the FOO. It's nice when someone else understands, thanks sanmagic7.  :)