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Why Saying No Can Improve Your Health And Life
There’s a lot to be gained by being a “yes” person. You cannot make changes in your life without saying “yes” to opportunities that present themselves. Never before in history have there been so many options for how humans can occupy their time. In some cases, saying “yes” to those options will turn them into obligations which, over time, can have a negative effect on your life and health.
It’s a medical fact that stress takes a toll on your health. If you subject yourself to chronic stress long enough, you will experience higher blood pressure, a weakened immune system, and other health problems, not to mention emotional and psychological troubles.
This problem occurs when we say yes to every single request or option that is placed in front of us. Between work, school, the gym, social outings with friends, and running errands, it is very easy to become burned out. Every moment of every day is scheduled, and you find yourself stressed out and feeling like you’re no longer in control of your own life.
Fortunately, it’s very easy to solve this problem. All it takes is a single word, the most powerful word in any language:
All it takes is a polite “no” and you can avoid all these problems. It’s such a simple thing to do, so why don’t more people do it?
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Why We Have A Hard Time Saying No
The inability to say no is rooted in fear, of which there are two primary varieties.
Fear of Disappointing others goes back to prehistoric times. We are afraid if we say no to someone, we will disappoint them, and damage our relationship with them. Essentially, this fear is one of alienation. There’s also a tribal element to this fear as well: a primeval fear of being excluded from the group.
These are the people pleasers- those who can never refuse any request. Sometimes it’s motivated by a desire for validation and acceptance from others- a fear that these will be taken away if you don’t say yes. If you find yourself always saying “yes” out of feelings of guilt, you are also letting this fear guide your actions.
The other fear is the Fear of Missing Out. “FOMO” as it is popularly called, is when we convince ourselves that we will miss out on an opportunity or something cool if we don’t say yes. This is basically a form of a scarcity mindset; a worldview that is rooted in the belief that there’s not enough to go around, so we must get it while the getting is good- regardless of what “it” is.
We’ve already discussed how never saying “no” can lead to stress and stress-induced health complications. But think about what else happens when you choose not to employ this power. If you accept an invitation to meet friends for drinks when you’re too busy or tired, what happens?
During the social gathering, you won’t be at your best. You’ll be tired. You might be cranky, and you won’t have a good time because you forced yourself to go out when you didn’t want to. Not to mention the fact that in this state, you’re probably not that much fun for others to be around either.
Maybe you should have done your friends a favor and said “no” that night.
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Benefits of Saying No
More Time. Time is non-renewable. No matter where we go or what we do in life, time is the only thing we ever really have. When you say “no” you’re taking back control of your most precious rescue.
You’ll Have Less Regrets. The mere fact that you wanted to say no in the first place means you may have had a good reason for not being there. Maybe you want to work on a side business after work. Maybe you want to practice guitar. Think about the opportunity cost of saying yes all the time. That time you spent at cocktail party you didn’t want to go to was time you could have spent getting better at guitar or building that business.
Improved Health & Energy. Since you’re no longer running around all the time doing things you don’t want to do, you’ll be healthier and less stressed. Since you’re healthier, you’ll also have more energy to give to the things and relationships that are really important to you.
People Will Respect You More. Each time you say no, you’re sending a message, that you respect yourself and you take your time seriously. When you demonstrate these qualities toward yourself, others will respect you as well. Your true friends will understand, and they won’y hold it against you if you say no when it’s necessary. If a friend, acquaintance, or even a family member cannot deal with you saying no to them, that’s a sign of someone who is probably a negative influence in your life. You’re better off reducing the amount of time you spend around such a person.
It takes courage and assertiveness to say no to people. The two fears mentioned above are deeply engrained in us, and even strong-willed people can find it difficult at times. But when you learn to say no, your stress levels, relationships, health and quality of life will improve.
No one’s going to take back control of your time for you. It’s up to you. Remember Nancy Reagan’s old anti-drug slogan, if you want to reclaim ownership of your life health and life: Just Say No.