The same applies with the ‘no’ muscles. If you have used them very little, they will be weak. They will be awkward. They feel feel unfamiliar and uncomfortable. So know from the get-go that you get better at saying ‘no’ the more you practice it.
So start small (with the less important ones) and build up to the big ones. Every repetition counts. Practice saying ‘no’ in front of the mirror. Remember a time when you said a very firm ‘No’, and how your body language and tone were. Then replicate that. Or better yet, watch a session of Cesar Millan, The Dog Whisperer as he shows people how to be more ‘assertive’. It is all about body language and energy. Say ‘no’ from there.
Q1: How can I not feel guilty when I say ‘no’?
Since the ‘guilt’ thing is emotional, this is more of a ‘blueprint’ thing. It is likely that you are telling yourself that saying ‘no’ means a particular thing, which then makes you feel guilty.
So here is a sentence completion exercise for you to become self-aware.
When I say ‘no’ it means…
The idea is to complete the sentence as many times as possible with the first thing that comes to mind. For example:
When I say ‘no’ it means:
I am a bad person…
I am being selfish…
People will stop liking me…
I won’t get invited back again…
I will lose my friends…
I am being mean like my mother (and I don’t want to be like that)…
I will miss out…
I will go broke…
That opportunity (or one like it) will never be available again
How many of the above statements are 100% TRUE, 100% of the time?
They are all FICTIONAL stories. None of them are absolutely true. Yet they have become a part of your ‘Blueprint’. They have shaped your life and your decisions and ultimately your results. And remember, the results did not come first – the stories did.
So understand what your story might be that is causing you to feel guilty and challenge it. Then replace it with a better story. Just becoming aware of something starts to change the wiring in your brain. Where attention goes, energy flows. Create a new story, like…
Saying NO opens space for an amazing HELL YEAH opportunity.Saying NO gives me time to spend with my gorgeous partner.Saying NO makes me feel more empowered.Saying NO feels so good!Saying NO liberates energy to do what I love.
Change your story. Change your life. Click here to read another specific article on this.
And in this case, change your story and you will change your emotions (in particular the guilt thing).
Q2: How do I know a ‘good’ opportunity from a ‘great’ opportunity?
For starters, we may think if we say ‘no’ then a certain opportunity is gone forever. But that is just a story and rarely the case. In my experience when I have said ‘no’ to something that did not feel just right for me (a HELL YEAH!) then something even better came along.
For instance when I left the Army after 14 years, a buddy set me up a job interview, which I passed and then got offered the job. The salary was close to $100k (in 2001) and it was my first job offer after leaving the Army. It looked great on paper, however…several months before I got out of the Army I took all my leave and traveled through South & Central America. When I was at Tikal Ruins in Guatemala, at the top of a pyramid, watching the sun rise up over the jungle, I got out my diary and wrote down the conditions for my ideal job in a state of complete calm and clarity.
So when I compared this job offer to my list of essentials and desirable (that came from a deeper place in me) I realised it did not measure up. So to the surprise of many; I said ‘no’. Several weeks later, on 2 January 2002 I landed at the Salt Lake City airport, with a contract to be a consultant to the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. This is the ‘YES’ that I created a space for (when I said ‘no’) and lead to an amazing 5 years consulting to mega events around the world.
I just know that at some level, if you trust your gut or heart, it is a great gauge for what is ‘good’ or ‘GREAT’.
However, since I am a strategist, I also like to have a few tools to bring into the show when I am confused. I know that the worthiness of the goals that we pursue have a huge impact on our happiness, so I use this formula I have shared with you previously, to determine if a goal or offer is worthy or great.
- Is it good for me? (at a wholesome, growing, life-enhancing way)
- Is it good for others? (does it positively benefit and serve the people in my life)
- Is it good for the greater good? (will it make a positive impact on the planet, the community, the environment, my company, etc.)
I find that the opportunity that ticks all of these boxes is likely to be GREAT versus a good opportunity. Know that the most meaningful goal or opportunity, is likely to bring you the most joy and happiness at a deeper level.
The other question I ask when an opportunity comes up is:
Is this opportunity going to take me closer or further from the goals I have deemed are most worthy?
(This could also be about whether it will take you closer to, or further from, the person you want to become in life.)
A little secret
PAUSE and BREATHE before you answer someone’s request.
That way you will be RESPONDING with conscious thought and your higher mental faculties. as opposed to REACTING (like a dog) and using all of those fictional STORIES and old limiting beliefs.
If you have the guilt thing going on, do the sentence completion exercise to get clear about your limiting, old and less useful beliefs.
When I say ‘no’ it means…
Become aware. Once you are aware you can do something about it.
If we don’t say ‘no’ when that is what we really want to say, we are not being honest with oursleves. In my opinion, feeling angry, resentful, disappointed, or powerless internally is much worse than feeling guilty for upsetting someone else’s feelings. Those feelings directed at ourselves are much more insipid, damaging and in many cases accumulative.
So let’s get really good at saying ‘no’ so we can let many more empowering, positive and amazing new YESES into our lives. And a BIG YES to that!!!!
Have a good one and see you next week! 😉
And please ask any questions you have. Plus I love hearing feedback from you on what resonated for you. Also do me and others a huge favour and pass them on. Knowledge used in the right way is definitely a way to access our incredible power. All the very best and take care.