If you have OCD then you know how hard it is to say “no” to OCD. When told “no” OCD is just like a two year old; it throws a temper tantrum and screams until it gets its way. Of course, if you give in to OCD you can expect a temper tantrum when you try to say “no” again. OCD is a strong force to be reckoned with. That’s why it’s good to practice saying “no” to people. If you can’t say “no” to people, how will you say “no” to OCD?
People who have a hard time saying “no” to OCD often have a hard time saying “no” to people. Sometimes a person with OCD will forfeit their own mental health in order to support a person in need. They say “yes” to oodles of invitations and projects even when everything is occurring at the same time. Even though they aren’t keeping up with their own responsibilities, they run everybody else’s errands. Instead of going to bed and getting much needed sleep they stay up late listening to a distant friend talk about their troubles. People who can’t say “no” are good people. They are very loving and make the world a better place for everybody else–except themselves.
The more difficulty you have in saying no the more stressed and depleted you’ll feel. Saying “no” to people will make saying “no” to OCD easier. Saying “no” doesn’t have to be hard. Once you master the art of saying “no” you’ll love how much more energy you have to do the things you love to do. You’ll love how much more resourceful you are at bossing OCD back. Read these four tips.
There’s no point in trying to figure out why you have such a hard time saying “no.” In the battle against OCD it’s not good to spend time analyzing. You won’t ever know for certain what definitely makes it hard for you to say “no.” Maybe you like chaos because it gets you “buzzy” and makes you feel alive. It’s possible you can’t say no because you fear rejection, loneliness or don’t want to miss out. Maybe you can’t say “no” because you like the distraction. It’s possible you can’t say “no” because you don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. Whatever the reason, it’s fear-based. Knowing it’s fear-based you know what you have to do. Action: Feel the fear and say NO anyway. Put your mental health first.
Be a big-picture thinker. Weigh the consequences of saying “yes.” You’ll get stressed and depleted. In the battle against OCD you need all of the focus and energy you can muster. Is it worth losing ground against OCD to support another person who could easily get help elsewhere? Maybe you are only enabling someone and keeping them from growing up. It doesn’t have to be you to save the day. Identify your priorities and guard them with your life. It’s better to be there consistently for one or two people than half-there for 10 people. Action: Get your priorities straight and be mindful of them.
Offer alternatives. I have to turn people away all the time from my therapy practice because of my schedule. I apologize and say, “I’m sorry I can’t be more helpful but try calling these people to see if they are available.” Keep it simple. Don’t go into long explanations. You’re defeating the purpose of saying “no” when you spend forever explaining yourself. Action: In one sentence say “no” and offer a suggestion.
Don’t be so accessible. Get into the habit of delaying the “yes.” Say, “I doubt that I can do it but let me get back to you tomorrow.” By then the person will probably already have another plan in place. Put a greeting on your voice mail that says you only listen to voice mail at 4pm [once a day.] Use an auto responder to reply to text messages or emails that states you are busy and will try to respond within 24 hours. Action: Delay. Don’t respond immediately.
As you get better at saying “no” to people you get better at saying “no” to OCD. It’s nice to be supportive of others but it shouldn’t be at the expense of your own mental health. It can be unsettling to be so quiet and still, but running around like a chicken without a head isn’t healthy either. Life is always going to be about finding balance. Say “no” and love every minute of it because it’s leading you to freedom.
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