A major stumbling block for many of us women is our inability to say “no”.

We give and give, and then give some more.

But all this selfless giving comes at a cost.

Ultimately, we pay the price with our health and happiness.

Helen is very senior in a large firm in the city. She works long hours, stays late, takes work home. She covers for people when they’re sick, she constantly picks up the slack. Career-wise, she she’s considered a high flyer, and yes, she’s raking it in – but she’s exhausted and overweight.

Anna is a stay-at-home mum. She regularly gets to the end of the day without including any time for herself. Every day, she puts her children first – and second, and third, and fourth, and fifth – so any time she might have spent on herself is spent in service to others. Mostly, she’s happy to give. But recently, she’s been feeling depleted, and she’s noticed she often feels p*ssed off and resentful. And, frustratingly, that number on the scale keeps on climbing.

Can you relate?

Both are smart, strong, eloquent women but they struggle get their tongues around that little tongue-twister – “no”.

Here’s six simple ways to work your ‘no muscle’, so you can get your own life back in control.

But first…

Why do we say “yes” when inside we’re screaming “no”?

For many of us, saying “no” triggers our deepest fear, that: “I’m not nice and other people will not like me.”

We’re conditioned from birth to believe that giving is somehow feminine, attractive, and that to put ourselves before others, is being selfish.

So, in an effort to gain approval of people around us, we start saying “yes”, and allow ourselves to be rail-roaded into doing stuff we really don’t want to do.

This pattern plays out until we explode – physically, emotionally or metaphorically.

How does saying “yes” all the time lead to weight gain?

When we allow ourselves to be rail-roaded on an ongoing basis, we trigger the stress response in our body.

What this means is that our body floods with the stress hormones – adrenalin and cortisol -which causes us to want to eat and eat and eat. You see, when our bodies are pulsing with stress hormones, we crave comfort food, which for most of us equals carbs – pizza, bread, pasta.

I’m all for giving but…

Just so we’re clear: I’m all for serving, for giving for helping others. BUT overly serving other people at the cost of your wellbeing isn’t constantly helping you or them. It’s martyrdom.

The beautiful thing is when you learn to say “‘no”, you reduce the amount of stress surging through your body, and lessen the desire to nibble on comfort food.

Here’s how to work the “no” muscle with style

1. Be clear about what’s important to YOU
Identify what’s important to you and what’s not. The mantra I adore is: Unless it’s a “heck yes”, then it’s a “no”. Intuitively you know what this means. You can physically feel the “yeehaa” or the “uh-uh” in your body. Do more of the first and less of the latter. All the other steps follow this one, but first you’ve got to get clear on what you want.

2. What’s your pay off?
Get honest sweetheart. What are you getting out of saying yes to others? Sounds nuts but Everything we do we do because we’re getting something out of it. E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G

For example, on some level being super busy is considered a badge of honour these days. Being stressed is socially acceptable and on some level labels you as a person of importance. True or true?!

So, what’s YOUR payoff for saying “yes” when you mean “no”? Do you get a buzz out of being ‘super mum?’ Is there an adrenalin rush? Are you keeping the peace? Do you wear the badge of honour in the office by being the first in and last out the door?

Get very, very curious about exactly what it is that you’re getting out of saying yes. Once you know what’s motivating you, you’ll find it much easier to leave your job at the end of the day, instead of completing ‘just one more task’.

3. Ditch the guilt
Remember, that every time you say “yes” when you mean “no”, you’re committing an act of self-betrayal. And, that the more you get to say “no” to others, the more you get to say “yes” to your real joy.

You have nothing to give anyone if you’re frazzled, stressed-out and overwhelmed. And joy? Forget joy – I’m far too busy being a people-pleaser!!!

I jest, but I know you’re hearing me, sista.

4. F.O.M.O
Some of us have a hard time saying no because we have a fear of missing out and we think that saying no will lead to a missed opportunity. But there’s no such thing. You are enough and there will always be other opportunities. By saying “no” to this opportunity you’re creating the space to say “yes” to something you value even more. Like maybe your health.

5. Be appreciative
Take it as a compliment. They’re asking for your help because they think you’re competent, and also because you’ve taught them how to treat you, by saying yes all those other times. So thank them for their request or invitation, BUT – unless it is a “heck yes”, – then it’s still a “no”.

6. Own your “no”
Some people don’t give up easily. That’s their prerogative. But, without violating any of the rules above, give yourself permission to be just as pushy as they are. Ultimately, they’ll respect you for it. Best of all though, you’ll respect you. Here’s some specific How To Say No tips.

And, finally…

Working your no muscle takes courage. If you’re someone who is used to saying “yes”, you may feel like a bad mum or lazy employee. You might feel like you’re letting someone down or not living up to your former wonder woman expectations.

But try it on anyway.

Notice how people start to treat you with more respect and honour your “no”, as you treat yourself with more respect. Notice too how your need for nibbling between meals and king-sized portions of comfort food decrease as you own your “no” and stay true to what’s important to you.

Ultimately it’s about giving yourself some self-care so that you can be there for those you love and care about. Let’s face it, if you don’t have your health and happiness, what do you have to give?

Love etc, Avril

PS: If you need a helping hand so you can own your  “no”, or, if nibbling between meals and king-sized portions of comfort food are a challenge you want to overcome, maybe hypnotherapy is the answer. Why not drop me a line? I’m here to help.  No really, I am.


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