Action Catalyst Blog

Who are you saying “no” to?

One of the most difficult challenges I regularly face in my life is being asked to “help” with different projects. Being asked for help creates one of the most unique emotional conundrums for a busy person because it is an incredible compliment to be asked for your advice, guidance or assistance.

In addition to the element of flattery that comes with being asked to help, I’ve also never been able to free myself of the natural guilt that comes along with saying the word “no.” After all, to any person you turn down, you very much run the risk of appearing too busy or too good for their needs – and for a nice person like me that pulls on my heart.

I also derive a sense of guilt from the idea that so many people have helped me, so who am I to turn down someone else who is asking? How is that fair?

The other dynamic to mention too is that often when I’m asked for help it’s because I really can help! And I get excited about that because I’m the kind of person who loves solving problems, loves building things, and loves giving to other people!

And so, I have a fear of saying “no” because I don’t want to appear to be too good, too busy, or too whatever to other people. So, rather than saying “no” I almost always say “yes” driven by accepting flattery, pushing away guilt, and being genuinely interested in being helpful.

But now a new problem is created…I’ve spent so much time saying “yes” to all the things I wanted to say “no” to that I’ve run out of time in my life. And as a result, I am now saying “no” to all of the things I really wanted to say “yes” to!

And then it hits me…there is no way to avoid saying “no”… Trying to avoid having to say “no” is like being the cow trying to run way from the storm. Why? Because I will always be saying “no” to someone. I will either intentionally be saying “no” to the things that don’t matter or I will wind up un-intentionally saying “no” to the things that do matter.

It’s not that I’m telling you, you should always say “no.” But I am realizing for the first time in my life that I’m always saying no to something and that I can afford to be a little more intentional about who and what exactly I am saying “no” to.

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