November – countdown’s on! Tunes from Michael Buble, Frank Sinatra or Human Nature play over the airwaves. Santa Claus and Christmas decorations are everywhere! Does the thought of Christmas, bring up fear or fun? Chaos or calm? Dread or dreamy family time? Whatever it is, it’s time to prepare for the silly season.
Stop and take a moment. Sit, take a breath and remember the previous Christmas. Remember the fun or the chaos, allow yourself to hear what you said. Was it, “This was the best time!” or “Great time, your house next year?”. Or did you say quietly to yourself, “Next year it will be different”? Or, “Next year I will do what I would like to do, or as a family we will do…”. Whatever it was, it’s important to allow ourselves to go back there. Because, if we always do what we have always done, we will always get what we have always got. If we wanted to reconnect with the same people/family/group because we had a great time, this is sensational. However, if we want to experience something different, we need to be true to ourselves.
Often we think it’s selfish to say no and have focused on ourselves. Even when we wonder what causes this though, we continue to do for others more than we do for ourselves and say, “Yes!” regularly. This is poignant as we head into the Silly Season. Practising saying “No” could even save our sanity. Remember, one of the biggest reasons we struggle to say no is because it is challenging. Generally, any change is challenging. We have been programmed over time to put ourselves second or even at the bottom of the pile, a general behaviour of the Western world.
This behaviour repeats and repeats – it’s inbuilt, it’s our ‘norm’. We go around repeating and the stress builds and builds. At some point, which is different for all of us, we hit the wall (albeit invisible). The impact of the wall is huge and also highly detrimental to all areas of our life, most importantly our health and wellbeing.
When we say “Yes”, who are we really saying no to? Let’s create a new habit. Of course, it’s a choice, therefore the first step is to ask ourselves if we want something different?
Ways to say “No”
- Keep your response simple and focused. Use sentences like, “Thanks, for the offer/for thinking of me etc, however, I’m not available”. Be congruent with body language and never over-apologise. It’s our decision to say no, we are not asking anyone’s permission to decline. If it’s not what we want, this is okay.
- Gain time to consider the request eg. “Let me think about this”, “I will sleep on it and come back to you by (set a timeframe)”, “I will check my diary”, “I’ll check my commitments and will get back to you if I’m available”. Avoid compromise if you truly want to say no.
- Be confident in your decision and watch the change. This is your life and you can drive it however you choose to. Stand firm in what you want!
- Role model by saying ‘No’ to your children. It’s okay for children to be told no. Explain the reason behind the decision, communicate the logic of your thinking and explain to them. It will show them, “No” is acceptable. Setting boundaries and enforcing them supports our children’s confidence, resilience and self-esteem.
- Most important, is to enjoy the growth that becoming empowered and more confident gives us. It is a journey. Practice is key to creating the changes we want. The desire to change is essential for success.
Remember, implementing small changes and taking baby steps is a great way to succeed in making life-changing habits. When we take small steps we can measure our success, refining as we move forward. Testing and measuring will ensure the right way for us.