Setting boundaries: How to say no — and when to say yes
Published in Medical Economics, November 18, 2021
As we approach the holidays, we often find ourselves feeling overwhelmed and overcommitted. ‘Tis the season to start setting boundaries, and it all starts with learning how to say ‘no.’
This is easier said than done, especially for physicians. We tend to be notorious people-pleasers who find ourselves saying ‘yes’ to things we don’t want to do because we hate to disappoint others or because we dread conflict. Other times we hesitate to say ‘no’ because we fear losing job or status, or out of fear of missing out on opportunities. And of course, sometimes we agree to take on more than we should because of a superhuman view of ourselves that we are the ‘only one’ who can do the job, or that we should be able to handle more than anyone else.
According to psychologist Steven Cohen, PsyD, when we don’t know how to say no (or when we say yes for the wrong reasons), we end up resentful and angry, which takes a toll on our psyche. Cohen says that the first step to taking back control of your decisions is to stop saying ‘yes’ automatically. Instead, pause before answering to ask yourself one simple question: What are my motivations for agreeing to this request?
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