The Fear of Saying “No”

Stepping onto a stone

“By stepping outside your comfort zone to do something peculiar, you confirm that you can do more than you’ve done. Move out!” – Israelmore Ayivor

“No” is one of my least favorite words. I hate saying it to people for numerous reasons. However, the main reason stems from fear.

Fear of them being hurt, upset, or unhappy. Fear of them disliking me, thinking I dislike them, or being rejecting. An even darker fear underlies most of these: fear of how they will retaliate.

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Coping Skills: #72. Backing Out If Needed

But I'm Not Ready Yet

“The trouble with the future is that it usually arrives before we’re ready for it.” – Arnold H. Glasow

Wednesday evening, I looked forward to heading to a show with my friends. However, my anxiety rose as the moment approached. A huge paper still needed finishing, and I had worked nearly 35 hours in the past 6 days while finishing finals and helping to set up a party.

When my friend came to get me so I could try to follow her to the location, I broke down in tears. My weariness and need to finish school ended up holding me back from the play. She kindly understood that I needed to back out of my commitment despite my longing to join her.

My life has been full of yeses: working until 1:00 A.M., helping with commencement, caring for a friend, buying gifts for others, cleaning up spills. The list could continue on, but this post is not to rant. Instead, I want to focus on the coping skill of saying “No” even if you previously said “Yes.”

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Coping Skills: #63. Refusing to Compromise Your Values

Cathedral in Oxford

My faith plays a large role in my values.

Yesterday, a source that I have been writing for requested me to provide material on some very raunchy and explicit themes. Nauseousness filled me as I read their themes. There was no way that I could research this information much less write material on it.

So, I responded with an apology but firm refusal before offering to write other articles instead of those. Doing this went against my fear of conflict and longing to be a people pleaser. However, the choice allowed me to exhibit strength in myself and my morals.

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Happy Birthday to Me!

On the bridge in Bath
On the bridge in Bath

On the covered bridge in Bath which is one of the two in Europe to have shops on it

Today I turned 23. Wow, that number makes me feel so old. That might sound silly, but I feel like I should be done with school and moving on with my life. Perhaps I should be engaged or in a serious relationship. My job should be more professional and sophisticated.

Anyway, I am trying to remember that I am on a different path than the typical 23-year-old. By the way, who really is that typical young adult? Could I meet them? Everyone is unique and has a different life journey. Fitting into certain boxes because of our age does not work always.

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Ten Tips to Saying No

Throughout my years of treatment, many men and women have expressed fear of telling others “no.”  This common theme for people struggling with perfectionism, depression, eating disorders, and other mental illness has also been a struggle for me.   Only slow steps toward self-care and self-respect have helped me to begin conquering this fear.

In previous posts, I have blogged about my anxiety when telling others “no.”  Although this post addressed my struggle, it did not give too many helpful tips that I have learned to counter this impulse.  So, I decided to make a list today of ten tips that I use when I need to say “no” to someone.

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