Having the confidence to say no is an incredibly fulfilling prospect and one I’m happy to say I have finally mastered. The most empowering thing you can do for yourself is to truly understand who you are! enough to be able to clearly acknowledge and relay that you do not want to do something.
We live in a world of people pleasers and there is nothing wrong with caring and wanting the best for someone but the inability to say no can have a negative effect on your mental state.
So how do we master this ability?
What is FOMO?
So you might have heard the word FOMO flying around in conversation and if not don’t worry I’m about to clear it up for you. Simply put FOMO is an acronym for “fear of missing out”.
Fear of missing out might be something you recall more clearly from being a teenager. It’s not wanting to say no to an event, party or social occasion for the fear that you will miss something that happens there. It’s completely human to feel a need to be liked, appreciated and cared for so the idea of rejecting an invitation to an event simply cause you aren’t up for it or because you don’t feel like it would be of interest of you, certainly seems like a way to lose friends not make them and that’s what usually drives the feeling of “FOMO”.
Anxiety and FOMO
When you suffer from anxiety disorder this sense of FOMO then becomes a huge burden. Instead of not going to something because you don’t want to, you become locked in a pattern of not attending because you feel as though you can’t.
I lost of sense of myself. Everything became confusing because I no longer knew what I wanted to do and what anxiety was telling me I couldn’t manage. Did I really want to go to the pub with my friends but I was too scared or did I just not want to be there because it’s not my scene?
In anxiety, you truly lose a sense of who you are because your anxiety drives you to a place where you can’t differentiate between who you are with the anxiety and who you’d be without it. It gives you a sense of protection as well as a sense of resentment.
The best way to try and sift through all that confusion and complication is to keep a journal. A journal is something physical that you can store your confusion in. It might not make sense to you right away, but after a period of time, you can start seeing patterns and instead of listening to the anxious thoughts of present you, you can go back in time and see what past you wanted. It gives you a sense of detachment from yourself, reading through your old journal entries and diaries allows you to connect with yourself in a way that isn’t threatening to present you. I wrote a blog on the benefits that come from back-reading. You can read it here.
I know I’m sorry it all sounds really crazy and hard to get your head wrapped around, but there is a method in the madness and if you go it a go I’m sure you’ll understand what I mean.
When you are trying to understand what you want, who you are without anxiety and gain the courage to say no, sometimes you have to go through that process to get those answers first.
The Gut Instinct
We’ve all heard that phrase “what does your gut say?” but to be honest I really don’t know what that gut instinct feels like, I’m been so warped by my anxiety and the strength of my brain trying to convince me I feel a certain way that I don’t know who to listen to my mind, my anxiety, my heart or my gut?
But what are you to do when everyone around says to follow your gut and you aren’t even sure which one that is anymore?
I taught myself that “you always secretly want one thing more than another” when I’m choosing a meal off a menu and I can’t decide I imagine I have received one and if I feel disappointment then I know its not the one I truly want that’s the GUT. The gut is driven by immediate emotional response, it's that thing that happens before you brain barges in!
This trick can be applied to life choices as well and FOMO situations. Imagine how you would feel if you went to that party. If your initial feeling isn’t excitement and joy then it’s probably not something you really want to do.
(but make sure you don’t start thinking about “what could happen” that’s the anxiety bug!)
What does NO really mean?
There is a lot of perceived judgement that comes from saying no. It seems harsh, especially to us Brits! We don’t like to let people down and we tend to be more concerned about others than we are about yourselves.
Don’t be afraid of saying no. Just be honest with yourself. I didn’t want to be looking at myself in the mirror anymore and seeing an utterly exhausted human looking back, with nothing to show for it but a list of things I wish I’d done instead.
If you want to go to that party then try saying no to anxiety. Make it a person and tell it no.
If you don’t fancy that tiresome night and an awful hangover then say no. Say no to your friends, they will get over it.
There is strength in knowing your own mind and being comfortable in the decisions you make for yourself.