“It’s OK to say no if you don’t feel moved by an opportunity—no matter how exciting it might sound to someone else. Happiness is a choice, but it’s made up of lots of smaller choices we need to make based on what we actually want.” ~Lori Deschene, TinyBuddha.com
Sometimes, life can feel overwhelming. Between the demands of a home, a family and/or a busy career, many people are finding themselves overworked and over-committed.
If you find yourself feeling this way, like you can’t seem to “get your head above water,” you might need to start re-evaluating your personal choices. It might be time to start saying no.
What’s so hard about saying no?
People-pleasers and victims of narcisissitic abuse are commonly among those who have trouble saying no to friends. After all, who doesn’t want to help a friend who asks for your help?
Unfortunately, there are times you simply need to say no when a friend seeks your assistance. Perhaps you’re way too busy or maybe your friend is asking you to do something that you’re uncomfortable doing.
It can be awkward to say no to a friend. No one wants to risk a friendship. You might be surprised to find out that it’s not that hard to say no and still be friends.
Follow these principles and you can say no without damaging your friendship:
1. Make certain you didn’t misunderstand. Misunderstandings are common. Maybe you didn’t hear what you thought you heard. Get clarification before you say yes or no.
* Maybe you’ll be able to say yes, if you first seek to understand.
2. Separate the issue from those involved. Once you’ve gotten clear on the issue and determined that you’re not getting involved, remember that you’re still friends. Being friends is separate from the issue at hand.
* Ensure they understand that it’s the issue or your own situation that’s preventing you from saying yes, not them.
3. Keep the focus on yourself, not your friend. It doesn’t go over well if you say something like, “I can’t lend you money because everyone knows you’ll never pay it back.”
* Let them know that you care, but explain why you can’t help. It’s important that they understand why you’re saying no.
* For example, you could explain that you have a policy of never loaning money because it has ruined friendships in the past.
4. Be firm and clear in your “no.” Many of us give weak, wishy-washy answers that give the other person hope that we might change our minds. Avoid giving false hope and just give a clear “no.”
* A clear “no” ends the issue quickly. It’s like pulling off a Band-Aid with one quick pull.
5. What is the underlying need? If you can determine what he really needs, you can help your friend come up with another solution.
* Sometimes, a person in need doesn’t have the capacity to find more elegant solutions. You could be of great assistance by taking the time to brainstorm and look for other alternatives in which you aren’t involved.
6. Find another way to help them. Maybe you could help with the current issue in some smaller capacity. Offer other suggestions.
* Maybe they have another need where you would be happy to provide help and support.
* One of the keys to keeping the friendship is to ensure they walk away with something from you, even if it’s only advice and empathy.
* If they feel worse than they did before they approached you, the friendship is likely to be strained.
* How we feel about others is largely dependent on how they make us feel. Do what you can to make your friend feel better without compromising your limits.
It’s never easy to say no to a friend. But sometimes saying no is the only way to maintain a friendship. If helping your friend comes at too great a cost, you’ll end up feeling resentful, which can kill the relationship altogether.
Take care of yourself and say no when it’s appropriate. Be supportive of your friends and try to help in other ways if you can’t acquiesce to their request.
If you can show that you’re empathetic and offer help in another way, your friendship should remain strong. It can be an awkward situation, but sometimes saying no is the best option.
Angela Atkinson is a Certified Life Coach and the author of more than 20 books on narcissism, narcissistic abuse recovery and related topics. A recognized expert on narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder who has studied and written extensively on narcissistic relationships since 2006, Atkinson was inspired to begin her work as a result of having survived toxic relationships of her own.
Atkinson offers trauma-informed coaching and has certifications in life coaching, level 2 therapeutic model, CBT coaching, integrative wellness coaching, and NLP. She is a certified trauma support coach and certified family trauma professional. She also has a professional PTSD counseling certification. Her mission is to help those who have experienced the emotional and mental devastation that comes with narcissistic abuse in these incredibly toxic relationships to (re)discover their true selves, stop the gaslighting and manipulation and move forward into their genuine desires – into a life that is exactly what they choose for themselves.
Along with her solution-focused life coaching experience, Atkinson’s previous career in journalism and research helps her to offer both accurate and understandable information for survivors of abuse in a simple-to-understand way that helps to increase awareness in the narcissistic abuse recovery community. Atkinson founded QueenBeeing.com Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support, the SPANily Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Groups and the Life Makeover Academy. In her life coaching practice, Atkinson’s clients enjoy her personalized approach that allows and encourages them to become the best possible versions of themselves and to succeed in doing what they love most. She offers individual and group coaching for victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse at NarcissisticAbuseRecovery.Online and NarcissismSupportCoach.com.