No.

There. You just said it. It wasn’t that hard, was it?

So why is it so much more difficult to say “no” to others when they ask for more help than you know you can safely give? It’s almost as if you need a magical cape to conjure up the elusive superpower to say “No!”

Of course, the thing about capes is their tendency to get caught in jet engines — think Syndrome in The Incredibles. So let’s not go there.

But what can you do to better manage the many requests for assistance from well-meaning people who see you as someone who is good at getting things done?

Say no. You can do it. Really you can.

Here are a few key steps I’ve learned to develop the superpower to say “No.”

  1. Believe that you are in charge of you. It’s not “if only you believe,” but it all starts there. In that space between their request and your answer lies a place where you do have a choice — no matter what you tell yourself. Even if you find you can’t change the specific instance of the request, perhaps you can back up and change the reason the request is being made in the first place.
  2. Know that you’re responsible for you. We like to play the victim far too often by acting as if we just can’t help but say “yes.” But often the reason we give for complying has more to do with our own fear of confronting or disappointing and less with reality.
  3. Get clear on your priorities. One reason we struggle to say no to so many good things is that we haven’t yet discovered what the best things for us might be. Because we’re not sure where we’re going, any old train will do to get there. Instead, take time to live intentionally by developing a life plan.
  4. Fear God more than people. Ed Welch has written a tremendous book on this topic entitled When People Are Big and God is Small: Overcoming Peer Pressure, Codependency, and the Fear of Man (Resources for Changing Lives). If we see our responsibility to be pleasing to our Creator as the main thing, our fears about disappointing the people He made seem to shrink rather quickly.
  5. Get over yourself. Guess what? If you dropped dead tomorrow, life would go on. We’d miss you, of course, but 90% of the stuff you do would get done by someone else. Don’t think it all rests on your shoulders. Sorry. It doesn’t. Instead, focus on the 10% that can only be done by you.

Do you struggle to say no? What steps have you taken to harness this superpower that seems so elusive to so many of us? Leave comment with a click here to share the growth. 

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