Part 1: Why You’re So Scared To Say No

I opened my email, saw the name and knew what the email was about.  

It’s that time of year to secure the leadership positions for next year.  

Either you move onto the executive leadership slate, or it was time to roll off the Board. Leadership in this board is on my bucket list.

How could I turn down the opportunity to move into the leadership role they were asking me?

But even though I LOVED the idea, there was that tug that said “Nope. Can’t do it sister.” I didn’t have a really “good” excuse–I mean reason, for saying no.

There was no work conflict. No family needs that I “shouldn’t” have been able to juggle.

Just that tug.

So I took a deep breath, adjusted my big girl...skirt and started typing.  

So I have been debating whether to move into the leadership track with the Board or to bow out for a while. I feel like I am too extended right now personally and professionally and don't want to commit myself without the ability to do so wholeheartedly…

I went on to express future interest, suggest names of other people that I saw as potential leaders for their organization and commit to support their future endeavors.

Quick scan for typos. Deep breath. Send.

Now what?

Oh she isn’t committed. She can’t handle it.” I could hear their thoughts already.

Another female physician leader not able/willing to make it work. Who is that talking? Is that really what people will think?

Thankfully, exactly 43 minutes later I received this response.

You made the right decision. You should never overextend yourself and you will know when the time is right. Thanks for sharing and for your support.

Sigh of relief. Happy dance.

I have never told that individual how much that response meant to me and how much I continue to call on it when I need it.  

Why is it so hard to say no?  And why does it feel so good sometimes?

I think if you ask people if they are a “people pleaser” or if they make decisions based on what others think about them, most people will tell you a really firm NO.  We are all adults here.  We are meant to live our own lives.  

Of course, we make decisions independently and based on what’s best for our own circumstances. Who cares what the Jones’ think? This isn’t high school.  

I believe we all have an innate craving for external approval and there is nothing wrong with that necessarily, so no need to judge it.  Who doesn’t love a big ol’ “atta girl!”?

So if we crave this external validation, no wonder it’s hard to say no.

What’s the big deal about saying no then?  

The reality is that even though we may have that innate craving for external approval, we have a bigger, stronger, more important, yet less recognized and rewarded innate craving to live in total alignment with what we are meant to be doing on our own individual path.  

If you aren’t respecting your own needs and wants, that is a huge stress on the psyche and the physical body. And stress on and in your body, whether emotional or physical, is the biggest threat to your health and wellbeing.

So next time your mind wanders to the what if’s or the worries or the what will people think, consider putting your blinders on a little and remember your path, your needs, your wants, your success!  It’s okay and it’s necessary.

-Dr. Paige

PS - Next week we’ll chat a bit more on how to say no!