Recovery is in essence about learning to say no. You have to learn to say no to your former behaviors, former places, and many times, former friends. It can be hard to say no, especially when you feel like everything around you is changing and you just want to be part of something outside yourself. When in recovery you may start building a new life for yourself and as part of that you will probably take on new opportunities and jobs. However, there comes a point when you get so busy you cannot take on another job, but hesitate to say no.
This is common in recovery as you want to help people realize you are trying to change you life and people will push and push to see what you can handle before making a mistake. Unfortunately, this pushing you to keep taking on more can cause problems of its own. Many people feel compelled to agree to every request, even if this means no time for themselves. This is not uncommon and many in recovery feel this is a way to have people learn to trust them again. However, learning to say no can help you earn respect from those around you. We tend to keep saying yes because we think saying no is uncaring, selfish, or may lead to letting someone down. Some people may even fear being disliked, criticized, or risking a friendship. Being able to say no is actually linked with self confidence. Those with low self confidence tend to agonize or feel nervous about saying no to anyone.
Low self confidence is typical for those who have addictions. Unfortunately, saying yes all the time can leave you feeling exhausted, stressed, and irritable. Feeling this way can have negative consequences. So how do you say no? Read on to learn effective ways to say no to those you know.
Keep your response simple and firm. This does not mean be mean but let your position be known and move on. If no is not working then buy yourself some time with “I’ll think about it and let you know”. This allows you time to think or truly see if you want to do what is asked. If not then say no with confidence. Consider a compromise if you really want to help. This can be accomplished by seeing what can fit into your schedule within reason. Remember it is important to help others, but equally important to take care of yourself. Separate refusal from rejection by remembering you are turning down a request not the actual person. Everyone has to say no at some point. This does not mean the person will hate you or that you are a bad person, you are simply saying no to a single request. Do not feel guilty for saying no to anyone, including your children. It is important for everyone to hear no on occasion as it sets boundaries.
Finally, be true to yourself and what you want. If someone asks you to do something you are not interested in then feel free to say no. People have different goals, wants, needs, and interests, you have the right to refuse. Now that you have the tools, practice using them.
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