Knowing when to say no means knowing yourself

It happened, but how? You said yes to the car dealer. Now you've got the keys and you're mad at yourself because you got roped into saying yes when you wanted to say no.

What happened?

Yes rolls off the tongue far more easily than no, but there are times when no is exactly what you need to say.

My father warned me. Never loan money to a


Two months later, I realize that I'll never get the $800 back. My friend has packed up and moved to the East Coast - no forwarding address.

When you say yes, do you mean it? Or do you get emotionally hooked in and can't say no?

How does your calendar get overbooked? How do you end up sitting through a movie that you really didn't want to see? How do you remain in unhealthy relationships?

You say yes.

Why do you say yes when you really want to say no? Is it because your parents said no too often? Is it because you want to be the nice guy? Or do you want to avoid conflict?

Maybe it's about self-esteem - you don't believe you deserve to set boundaries. The kids beg to stay up past bedtime. You're overly tired and instead of saying no, you give in.

Then, there was the time when someone you hold in high esteem invited you to a political gala. You said yes, but got a queasy feeling in your stomach.

The truth is you said yes because you wanted to be with the power crowd.

Those queasy feelings eat away at personal integrity. It's time to learn how to say no.

Your granddaughter is the apple of your eye and the peach in your pie. It's difficult to turn her down when she wants you to buy the jeans that all of her friends are wearing.

You would rather spend the money on a winter coat that she really needs. It's time to use a no response. It's an opportunity to discuss choices, priorities and money management. Important life lessons can be taught when we say no.

Imagine yourself becoming more skilled using no as an answer. If friends and family push your boundaries, thinking that you'll give in - the way you usually do - ask them, "Which part of no don't you understand, the 'n' or the 'o'"?

Learning to say no involves learning to respect yourself. Don't do things just to be liked or to be included or to look generous or wealthy.

It's OK to say no to people who keep urging you to have a drink or give them sex or loan them money or indulge in drugs. No is a powerful answer.

Pay attention to your gut. If you start to feel nervous and uncomfortable, you probably want to say no.

Notice if the first response out of your mouth begins with "ah-h-h-h." Hesitation is an indication that you need to slow down and consider what is true for you.

A whole-hearted yes resounds with clarity, so notice the difference when your response is a watered down "sure," or "OK."

Check in with yourself to see if you are hedging to avoid saying no. Half-hearted words may indicate that you want to say no.

If saying yes is a habit, saying no takes practice. The next time you find yourself with your plate too full, your gut in a knot because you're doing things you really don't want to or you can't stand yourself because you're not following your own value system, try saying no.

I think I'll take my own advice. I won't say yes just because the experts say it's so. And, I won't say yes just because my family expects me to say yes. Ah, yes - the answer is no.

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