Follow on YouTube Follow on Instagram

Motivate Yourself 120: Being Assertive. Just Say No!

Have you ever said “Yes” to something, when in your head you’re screaming “Nooooo!”?
Maybe you fit in with the attitude that “If you want to get something done, ask a busy person”
After all, that’s what people say isn’t it?
But, why is that?
Is that because busy people are good at getting things done? Or is that a majority of busy people are only busy because they find it difficult to say “No” to people?

Because, it’s quite hard to say “No” isn’t it?
We want to be compliant, we want to be liked. But it can go a bit far when we’re constantly being taken advantage of.
It damages our self esteem, our belief about ourself. It’s one thing for others to see us as a bit of a soft touch but eventually we begin to think that way about ourselves, and see ourselves as weak.
So, not only do we resent others but we start to dislike ourselves!

So. what’s it all about?

Looking at some research done at the Max Planck Institute It seems that it can often go back a long way. Their research with toddlers showed that we are born wanting to help others and that we have to learn to be selfish.
When the researcher drops a clothes peg and can’t reach it the child will automatically jump up to help.


If it’s obvious that the researcher drops the peg on purpose, but still can’t reach it. A huge majority of the time the toddler wont help.
So yes, it is in our instincts to be altruistic, to look after each other, but not if they aren’t prepared to look after themselves.
Even an 18 month old will see what’s going on and not help. But what happens after that?

What happens, as we grow, that changes us, that allows others to take advantage?

In most people I think its a way of preventing emotional pain. We compare the pain in having to comply with the pain of being thought of as unhelpful and compliance wins!
But in order for compliance to win we have to exaggerate the negative possibilities in saying “No”. Making assumptions that the other person will think of you as unfriendly or unreliable.

As with many issues that clients present to me they usually have an initial sensitising event or even a group of them. The brain learns that if you’re ever in the same situation again you have to make sure you stay safe, and it creates anxiety about it.

So, why have anxiety about saying “No”?
Who’s the anxiety really about?
Is it really that person who stands over your desk with extra work for you?
Or is it just the same brain circuitry that connected up when you were confronted by a bully at school?
Or even a bully at home?
Or earlier in your career?

There may be those initial sensitising events, but the reason the brain is still firing off the anxiety response all these years later isn’t because it started. It’s because it didn’t stop.
The anxiety belongs in the past and the person who’s putting pressure on you now to do something that you don’t feel you should do, is different.

So let’s learn to say “No”.
Whether it’s to door to door sales people or sales calls on the phone. There are plenty of opportunities to practise.
Recognise that saying “No” will not collapse your universe, it doesn’t make someone hate you.
But remember, there’s a difference between being assertive and being aggressive.
When learning to be more assertive people can sometimes forget that, and so it feels unrealistic to become that sort of character. But you don’t need to be.
Assertiveness is right in the middle between being passive and being aggressive. It enables you to be able to put your point across in such a way that it shouldn’t anger the other person.
That way if they do become angry then you know that it’s more of a reflection on them then on you.

As always if you want any extra help with this then let me know.

Episode List

Episode 138: Keeping Up With The Joneses
Episode 137: The Likeable You
Episode 136: Why It's OK To Be A Loser
Episode 135: The Psychology Of Extremism
Episode 134: Are You A Lobster?
Episode 133: Critical Thinking
Episode 132: There Is Nothing Either Good Or Bad
Episode 131: The For And Against Of Imagination
Episode 130: Loneliness & Social Networks
Episode 129: Letting Go Of The Past
Episode 128: What Is Love?
Episode 127: Procrastination
Ep. 126: Who Were You Before The World Changed You?
Episode 125: Stop Saying "Sorry"
Episode 124: Emotional Contagion
Episode 123: Patience
Episode 122: Building On Your Foundations
Episode 121: Dealing With The Critics
Episode 120: Being Assertive. Just Say No!
Episode 119: Inactivity
Episode 118: Social Functioning & Evolution
Episode 117: Unleash Your Inner Superhero
Episode 116: Goals, Values and Priorities
Episode 115: 10 Tips To A Happier Life
Episode 114: Lies And Confabulation
Episode 113: Confirmation Bias
Episode 112: Are You An Imposter?
Episode 111: What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger
Episode 110: Are New Years Resolutions a good idea?
Episode 109: The African Violet Queen Of Milwaukee
Episode 108: Reframing
Episode 107: Spiders And Behaviourism
Episode 106: Practise Makes Perfect
Episode 105: Fear Of Flying
Episode 100 - 104: Happiness
Episode 99: Body Image And The Media
Episode 98: Evolution and Adaptation
Episode 97: Reflections And Regrets.
Episode 96: Dealing With Fear
Episode 95: Confidence
Episode 94: Enthusiasm
Episode 93: Tips To Relieve Christmas Stress
Episode 92: Dealing With Change
Episode 87 - 91: Self Esteem
Episode 86: Correlation Does Not Imply Causation
Episode 85: The Importance Of Being Lazy
Episode 84: Elephant Chains
Episode 83: Eating Bananas And Setting Goals
Episode 82: Ignoring The Media And Listening To Music
Episode 81: Awakening The Instincts
Episode 80: The Fine Line Between Love And Hate
Episode 79: The Best Medicine
Episode 78: A New Start
Episode 77: Time Distortion
Episode 76: Making Decisions
Episode 75: What's In A Name?
Episode 74: Pushing Ourselves Further
Episode 73: Conformity
Episode 72: Purpose
Episode 71: Perspective
Episode 70: Expectation
Episode 69: The Mind / Body Link
Episode 68: Overcoming Shyness
Episode 67: Mood Boosting
Episode 66: Sabotaging your goals
Episode 65: Self Talk
Episode 64: Money Makes The World Go Round
Episode 63: First Impressions Count
Episode 62: False Belief
Episode 61: Absolutes
Episode 60: The Psychology of feeling calm
Episode 59: Belief
Episode 58: Anchoring Emotions
Episode 57: Negativity and Perspective
Episode 56: Health And Happiness
Episode 55: Imagination vs Reality
Episode 54: Change