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Running From Problems Makes Life Harder: 4 Steps To Face Everything Bravely

Running From Problems Makes Life Harder: 4 Steps To Face Everything Bravely

When thinking about problem avoidance, I cannot help but remember working on my master’s thesis a few years ago. Just thinking about the amount of work I would have to put in gave me panic attacks. So, I did what we do best – procrastinate. It’s funny how easily our mind comes up with millions of excuses when we are faced with a big challenge. For me it was always one dumb thing after another. I was always tired from work; I always had some house chore that couldn’t wait and left me feel exhausted so I had to postpone my writing; or there was an event to go to that I simply couldn’t miss. And so the months went on and I couldn’t force myself to stay on the task for more than half an hour a day. When I finally spent all of my excuses, I realized that how far behind I was with my schedule, and that I would have to work harder than ever before in order to finish everything on time. Those three weeks of not getting enough sleep, feeling tired at work, and working day and night on my thesis left me feeling stressed and anxious. But, more importantly, once I actually started working on my assignment, I realized how much I actually enjoy it. As the momentum was building up, I managed to face each challenge as it came, realizing that nothing was as difficult as I imagined it in my head.

I’m sure many of you can relate to my story to some degree. It is because our brains are simply wired to run away from problems and difficulties. Most of us are so well trained in avoiding problems, that we do it unconsciously, by default, each time we are faced with a task or a problem that seems challenging or time-consuming. It doesn’t matter if it is about working on bigger projects or doing simple tasks, such as paying bills, or taxes, our minds threat them equally if they bring any kind of discomfort. And, so our lives turn into a stressful, never-ending vicious cycle of constant struggle to finish everything on time, and we never get to the important things either. Little kids are tolerated with this kind of behavior, to some degree. But as grown-ups, if we want to constantly improve and grow as persons, we need to find ways to break free from this bad habit. One of the best approaches for dealing with problem avoidance is The Face Everything Technique that can be implemented in four simple steps:

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1. Stay in the now

Most of the time, we avoid problems without even being aware of it. By the time we realize what we are doing, the duties have already piled up, making it all the more difficult to manage. The best way to start being aware and mindful, is to start practicing being in the now. Meditation is one of the most helpful techniques for being present and clearing your mind from all the noise. Once you start practicing being in the present moment, you will become much more aware of your thoughts as they come. This way, you will be able to recognize the avoiding thoughts as they start and you would be able to stop them on time. Also, in order to become more aware, make sure to turn off all of the distractions, such as social media notifications.

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2. Make peace with the “negative”

Now that you are able to recognize your thoughts and emotions as they appear, don’t be afraid of the “negative” emotions that appear once you are faced with the object of discomfort. Try to acknowledge them instead, as it is the only way to eventually overcome them. In those moments tell yourself that it is okay to feel frightened and worried, but that is not a reason to go and distracts yourself with something more pleasant at the moment.

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3. Take action

The only way to truly overcome something is to face it head on. This is probably the most difficult step as it requires us to actually do something with the problem in hand. The great news is that it gets much easier once you complete the first two steps, and the more you practice the entire technique, the easier and more natural it gets. Another great aspect of starting an action is that it tends to pick up momentum and soon it gets much faster and easier, not to mention the self-esteem boost you will experience when you get past the initial challenges. Keep in mind the words of the great Nelson Mandela: “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

4. Get support

It was quite a revelation for me to find out that my friends and loved ones were going through same struggles as me when it comes to running from problems and unpleasant situations. Sharing it with them made me feel less alone in my efforts to stay on the right track and face my problems. It worked both ways, as they found the same amount of support in me. Open up to your closest group of friends and family as they are probably facing it too. You can remind each other to stay focused and brave through each problem and demanding task, and help each other grow as human beings.

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Ana Erkic

Social Media Consultant, Online Marketing Strategist, Copywriter, CEO and Co-Founder of Growato

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Last Updated on January 24, 2021

How to Say No When You Know You Say Yes Too Often

How to Say No When You Know You Say Yes Too Often

Do you say yes so often that you no longer feel that your own needs are being met? Are you wondering how to say no to people?

For years, I was a serial people pleaser[1]. Known as someone who would step up, I would gladly make time, especially when it came to volunteering for certain causes. I proudly carried this role all through grade school, college, even through law school. For years, I thought saying “no” meant I would disappoint a good friend or someone I respected.

But somewhere along the way, I noticed I wasn’t quite living my life. Instead, I seem to have created a schedule that was a strange combination of meeting the expectations of others, what I thought I should be doing, and some of what I actually wanted to do. The result? I had a packed schedule that left me overwhelmed and unfulfilled.

It took a long while, but I learned the art of saying no. Saying no meant I no longer catered fully to everyone else’s needs and could make more room for what I really wanted to do. Instead of cramming too much in, I chose to pursue what really mattered. When that happened, I became a lot happier.

And guess what? I hardly disappointed anyone.

The Importance of Saying No

When you learn the art of saying no, you begin to look at the world differently. Rather than seeing all of the things you could or should be doing (and aren’t doing), you start to look at how to say yes to what’s important.

In other words, you aren’t just reacting to what life throws at you. You seek the opportunities that move you to where you want to be.

Successful people aren’t afraid to say no. Oprah Winfrey, considered one of the most successful women in the world, confessed that it was much later in life when she learned how to say no. Even after she had become internationally famous, she felt she had to say yes to virtually everything.

Being able to say no also helps you manage your time better.

Warren Buffett views “no” as essential to his success. He said:

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

When I made “no” a part of my toolbox, I drove more of my own success, focusing on fewer things and doing them well.

How We Are Pressured to Say Yes

It’s no wonder a lot of us find it hard to say no.

From an early age, we are conditioned to say yes. We said yes probably hundreds of times in order to graduate from high school and then get into college. We said yes to find work, to get a promotion, to find love and then yes again to stay in a relationship. We said yes to find and keep friends.

We say yes because we feel good when we help someone, because it can seem like the right thing to do, because we think that is key to success, and because the request might come from someone who is hard to resist.

And that’s not all. The pressure to say yes doesn’t just come from others. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves.

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At work, we say yes because we compare ourselves to others who seem to be doing more than we are. Outside of work, we say yes because we are feeling bad that we aren’t doing enough to spend time with family or friends.

The message, no matter where we turn, is nearly always, “You really could be doing more.” The result? When people ask us for our time, we are heavily conditioned to say yes.

How Do You Say No Without Feeling Guilty?

Deciding to add the word “no” to your toolbox is no small thing. Perhaps you already say no, but not as much as you would like. Maybe you have an instinct that if you were to learn the art of no that you could finally create more time for things you care about.

But let’s be honest, using the word “no” doesn’t come easily for many people.

3 Rules of Thumbs for Saying No

1. You Need to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Let’s face it. It is hard to say no. Setting boundaries around your time, especially you haven’t done it much in the past, will feel awkward. Your comfort zone is “yes,” so it’s time to challenge that and step outside that.

If you need help getting out of your comfort zone, check out this article.

2. You Are the Air Traffic Controller of Your Time

When you want to learn how to say no, remember that you are the only one who understands the demands for your time. Think about it: who else knows about all of the demands in your life? No one.

Only you are at the center of all of these requests. You are the only one that understands what time you really have.

3. Saying No Means Saying Yes to Something That Matters

When we decide not to do something, it means we can say yes to something else that we may care more about. You have a unique opportunity to decide how you spend your precious time.

6 Ways to Start Saying No

Incorporating that little word “no” into your life can be transformational. Turning some things down will mean you can open doors to what really matters. Here are some essential tips to learn the art of no:

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1. Check in With Your Obligation Meter

One of the biggest challenges to saying no is a feeling of obligation. Do you feel you have a responsibility to say yes and worry that saying no will reflect poorly on you?

Ask yourself whether you truly have the duty to say yes. Check your assumptions or beliefs about whether you carry the responsibility to say yes. Turn it around and instead ask what duty you owe to yourself.

2. Resist the Fear of Missing out (FOMO)

Do you have a fear of missing out (FOMO)? FOMO can follow us around in so many ways. At work, we volunteer our time because we fear we won’t move ahead. In our personal lives, we agree to join the crowd because of FOMO, even while we ourselves aren’t enjoying the fun.

Check in with yourself. Are you saying yes because of FOMO or because you really want to say yes? More often than not, running after fear doesn’t make us feel better[2].

3. Check Your Assumptions About What It Means to Say No

Do you dread the reaction you will get if you say no? Often, we say yes because we worry about how others will respond or because of the consequences. We may be afraid to disappoint others or think we will lose their respect. We often forget how much we are disappointing ourselves along the way.

Keep in mind that saying no can be exactly what is needed to send the right message that you have limited time. In the tips below, you will see how to communicate your no in a gentle and loving way.

You might disappoint someone initially, but drawing a boundary can bring you the freedom you need so that you can give freely of yourself when you truly want to. And it will often help others have more respect for you and your boundaries, not less.

4. When the Request Comes in, Sit on It

Sometimes, when we are in the moment, we instinctively agree. The request might make sense at first. Or we typically have said yes to this request in the past.

Give yourself a little time to reflect on whether you really have the time or can do the task properly. You may decide the best option is to say no. There is no harm in giving yourself the time to decide.

5. Communicate Your “No” with Transparency and Kindness

When you are ready to tell someone no, communicate your decision clearly. The message can be open and honest[3] to ensure the recipient that your reasons have to do with your limited time.

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How do you say no? 9 Healthy Ways to Say “No”

    Resist the temptation not to respond or communicate all. But do not feel obligated to provide a lengthy account about why you are saying no.

    Clear communication with a short explanation is all that is needed. I have found it useful to tell people that I have many demands and need to be careful with how I allocate my time. I will sometimes say I really appreciate that they came to me and for them to check in again if the opportunity arises another time.

    6. Consider How to Use a Modified No

    If you are under pressure to say yes but want to say no, you may want to consider downgrading a “yes” to a “yes but…” as this will give you an opportunity to condition your agreement to what works best for you.

    Sometimes, the condition can be to do the task, but not in the time frame that was originally requested. Or perhaps you can do part of what has been asked.

    Final Thoughts

    Beginning right now, you can change how you respond to requests for your time. When the request comes in, take yourself off autopilot where you might normally say yes.

    Use the request as a way to draw a healthy boundary around your time. Pay particular attention to when you place certain demands on yourself.

    Try it now. Say no to a friend who continues to take advantage of your goodwill. Or, draw the line with a workaholic colleague and tell them you will complete the project, but not by working all weekend. You’ll find yourself much happier.

    More Tips on How to Say No

    Featured photo credit: Chris Ainsworth via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Science of People: 11 Expert Tips to Stop Being a People Pleaser and Start Doing You
    [2] Anxiety and Depression Association of America: Tips to Get Over Your FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out
    [3] Cooks Hill Counseling: 9 Healthy Ways to Say “No”

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