Posts Tagged ‘guilt’

Jan, let’s examine your guilt.  Have you done something inappropriate, offensive, illegal or immoral?  No.  So what is your guilt about?   Saying “no” to someone else’s priorities so that you can say “yes” to your own priorities?  Isn’t that a good thing?  

Now you may be thinking, “But I feel badly about disappointing them.” 

You’re a caring person, I get that.  As good as you are, you are not responsible for rescuing the world and fixing everyone’s problems.  Nor does anyone expect that of you.  “No’s” are a part of life.

Let me ask you this:

When you consistently say “no” to your priorities so that you can say “yes” to someone else’s priorities, do you feel good?

No.  You feel disappointed for not honouring yourself.   A lifetime of pleasing others means a lifetime of disappointing yourself.

Life is about choices.  The truth is, we have a finite amount of time, and only one life.  If you want a rewarding, fulfilling, authentic life, then you must live your life according to your values and priorities – based upon what will give you the highest emotional and financial rewards, in the time you have.  That means you must choose.

Whenever we say “yes” to something, we have to say “no” to something else and vice versa.  Consider this scenario: at the last minute your boss asks you to stay late because of an important deadline.  But you have promised your son you would watch his little league game.  If you say “yes” to your boss, you have to say “no” to your son.  If you say “yes” to your son, you have to say “no’ to your boss.   How will you choose? 

Your answer will depend upon many factors – most importantly, what will feel most congruent with your values and priorities.  Honour those above all. 

The good news is that people respect other people who uphold their personal values and live with integrity.  Even if it means hearing a “no”.  Will they be disappointed?  Perhaps.  Will they respect you?  Absolutely!

Now, saying “no” doesn’t mean you have to abruptly slam the proverbial door in someone’s face.  There is a gentle way to say no.  Here’s the formula that I use:

  1. Start with an understanding statement to acknowledge the reason for their request.  Could sound like: this sounds important…I see that you are stuck…I understand your situation….I’m complimented that you would ask…Thank you for considering me…
  2. Next, explain your situation.  “Unfortunately, I have other commitments…I’ve promised…I’m choosing…Here’s my situation…
  3. Consider alternatives you could offer this person.  “Can we try…What if….Could you ask…How ’bout I… Here’s what I can do…Are there other options…

This type of gentle, thoughtful “no” preserves relationships, reduces the chances of residual bad feelings, and shows that you still want to offer some level of support.  That’s a win-win! 

Now, to help ease your feelings of guilt, affirm your decision to yourself with this statement: “By saying no to this person, I am honouring myself and what I value most.  And that feels really good.  At the same time, I know and trust that this person is resourceful and will find a solution.”

I hope that helps you Jan. Great question.

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