I know 2m2r, I'm still working on it too. I'm practicing saying, "no, I'm not able to do that." Or "No, I can't do it." Period. It's interesting that the 'other' will sometimes pause and wait for an explanation too so you're both left in that awkward silence where your explanation and justification use to be. If I can get through that awkward moment, I'm usually okay. Then I have to prepare for the 'other' actually asking me "why not?" In which case I don't want to resort to what my parents said, "because I said so," so I am working on saying "well, that's what feels right to me now." I have to figure out the script beforehand, so I am not left unprepared. Until I get better at it and can trust my first response to be a direct hit NO.
I've seen that when I am absolutely clear in my NO, then no one questions me. But, if I have any doubts, then...........well the 'other' senses that and continues asking "why not" trying to break down my "no." So, for me, clarity and conviction in my saying no is the way for me to proceed. The only person now who I have trouble with is my granddaughter who is used to me giving a lot to her.
Those boundaries I set with my daughter have worked very well in my ability to say no in many different scenarios, in particular I've noticed in my job where folks were just used to me being willing to take on more and more. It's very empowering to say a resounding "NO" and mean it!!
One thing I learned with my own son is to just simply say "NO"
I had too many times where I would say "I'm sorry but I just can't help you this time" would lead into a debate.
It would go something like this:
Me: I'm sorry but I just can't help you this time"
Son: but you will help me right? you said not this time so that means you'll help me right???
Me: I can't help you. You need to start taking responsibility for yourself and quit relying on me.
Son: Rely on you, when have you ever been there to help me?
Me: All the times you got arrested I was there for you in court
Son: Ya, whatever, you never bailed me out instead you let me sit in jail.
Me: I'm sorry about that
Son: You owe it to me, I need money
Me: No, I can't help you
Son: You're a
It took time but I finally learned to just say "NO" with conviction and without any apology.
When he would ask me why, I would say "I have made my decision, I said NO and do not need to offer any explanation" The debates stopped.
There is so much power behind that simple little word.
I practice this one in social settings...for years I said yes to every invitation, no matter how I felt about it..it seemed I didn't have a right, in my own eyes, to have my own time in my own way. Then I started saying no with a long apologetic explanation...and then I read (Miss Manners, believe it or not, I LOVE her) who said...Do not offer an explanation. You don't have to, and it puts the receiver in the position of knowing they were weighed and found lacking....just say..oh, no, I can't! I 'that doesn't work for me' Or 'I;m not able to do that'. Thats it. And revel in the sense of adult responsbility for your own life.