Are you an ‘over-committer’? Do you say yes even when you’d rather say maybe or (gulp) no?
Overcommitting is an exhausting predicament a lot of people (especially women) can relate to. We agree to things we don’t have capacity for, or simply don’t want to do, and as a consequence we end up feeling frustrated, resentful, and completely burnt out – all because we have an aversion to saying no.
If you’re someone who has a tough time saying that seemingly innocuous but seriously stress-inducing word, you’re not alone. Most of us are conditioned from childhood to say yes because saying no just got us in trouble.
Remember how ‘No, I don’t want to tidy my bedroom’ or ‘No, I don’t want to eat my vegetables’ ended in punishment? If you said no to your parents’ requests, you’d be denied something, like an afternoon playing with your best friend or a sugary treat from the local bakery. As kids, ‘No’ never seemed to be the right answer – so we said yes and just got on with it.
And by the time we grow up? The fear of saying no feels almost all-consuming. But now it comes with way more consequences than missing out on dessert. Or at least we think it does.
How many times have you found yourself accepting a new project at work – when you’re already juggling too many as it is – out of fear of missing out on a promotion at some point in the future? Or what about all those social events you agree to attend because you think the invites will dry up if you decline a few?
And then there’s all the things you do for your closest friends and family members – even when you’re run down, stressed out, or seriously time-poor. Sure, you say yes to your loved ones because, well, you love them. But you probably also don’t want them to think that you’re uncaring, thoughtless, or, heaven forbid, selfish.
The thing is, saying no is a form of self-care and self-preservation. Still, it doesn’t come naturally to many of us. Thankfully, it is a skill that can be learned and practised.
It’s actually something that New York Times bestselling author Sarah Knight has perfected. For Knight, ‘No’ is not a nail-bitingly hard word to say. It’s just part of her everyday lexicon – she uses it easily, purposefully, and regularly.
Her book F**k No! How to Stop Saying Yes When You Can't, You Shouldn't, or You Just Don't Want To is packed with tips, techniques, and practical strategies to help you overcome your fear of saying no and instead embrace it with gusto.
Blunt and to the point, Knight delivers a series of creative answers and polite comebacks to a variety of situations. It’s warm, motivating and hilariously written, and most importantly, it will arm you with the tools you need to courageously look out for what's most beneficial to YOU (yes, you – remember you?).
F**k No! is part of Knight’s bestselling No F**ks Given Guides, which started with The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k in 2016 and has since grown into a ‘No F**ks’ movement. The series has sold more than two million copies worldwide and has cemented Knight as the Queen of No.
After reading F**k No!, founder and EIC of Casper, Maria Ugrinovski, found a bit more peace in her life.
I’ve put some of Knight’s tactics into play and yes, they work. My mindset is clearer because I’m not bombarded with extra bits and pieces.
So, if you’re looking to say no more often and with way more conviction (without coming across as self-centred, rude, or totally unlikeable), this could be your September reading pick.
Because you can say no to staying back past 5pm one night a week. You can blow off that baby shower you’ve been dreading since the invitation arrived in late June. And it’s ok to bow out of that girls’ trip planned in November because it’s way beyond your budget.
Sometimes, saying no is the only way to say yes to yourself. And if you want to spend your Friday nights at home with your favourite stretchy pants, a tub of ice cream, and Kath and Kim repeats? F**k it. It’s a ‘Hell, Yes!’ from us.