When you must say 'no' You don't have to do everything yourself


December 01, 1992|By Barbara Turk, M.S. | Barbara Turk, M.S.,Contributing Writer

This time of year really gets to you -- too much to do, too many obligations. You always end up exhausted and resentful. You don't want to do some of the stuff but you feel like there's no choice. So, as usual, you wind up doing it all. Then you get mad at yourself. "Dummy," you say, "why can't you simply say 'no'?"

Good question. Maybe doing it all says you're needed and important. Or it's your duty. Or you're afraid of hurting others' feelings. Or you believe they won't approve. Whatever the reason, how do you say no when you need to?

* First, ask yourself why it's hard to say no. For instance, your answer might be that they won't approve if you do so.

* Then, take a look at your reasoning. Chances are it's faulty. Saying no when something places a hardship on you probably won't incur the disapproval of others (would you disapprove of someone else in that circumstance?). And, if others do get huffy, they may be concerned only with what they want from you and are not being considerate of your needs.

* Recognize that you have the right to make choices as to what you will and won't do. (Who has a better right to decide that than you?)

* Finally, find ways of saying no that are firm yet not abrasive. For example, "I'm pleased that everyone has enjoyed my holiday parties. However, this year I'm not going to do it." (And you don't need to make excuses or apologies for your decision.)

Remember, by saying no appropriately, you can have harried holidays become happy holidays. And who would say no to that!

Barbara Turk is a psychotherapist in private practice.

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