21/11/2013 12:15 GMT | Updated 25/01/2014 16:01 GMT

The Power of No

If someone constantly takes advantage of you, why wouldn't you tell them? Why would you place them above yourself and give into their unreasonable demands and inappropriate behaviour?

You have the 'Nice' Syndrome.

I used to suffer from that syndrome for years.

I used to allow people to treat me in ways that were insensitive, unkind and totally disrespectful because as a child I was told I MUST be a 'nice girl'. I used to say yes and feel resentful, suffer in silence, and play the martyr.

The truth was my fear of upsetting anyone was enormous...

I used to moan to friends and avoid confrontation at any cost as I wanted approval so much I did whatever it took to get it.

No amount of complaining will change others, we train people how to treat us. Here's the thing; our relationship with others is a precise reflection of our most deeply held beliefs about ourselves.

Step One - Heightened awareness

I hired my first life coach in 2000 and I suddenly got what she meant around me only having true self - respect when I let go of the fear of saying 'no'.

For years I thought saying 'no' was selfish.

My coach put the halogen light on my behaviour and explained saying yes when I meant no was being manipulative as it came from a place of wanting approval.

For the first time ever I gave up the role of 'Mrs Nice Girl' and started taking responsibility for myself...

"Are you saying I can't be considerate?"

Running around trying to please everybody because you THINK that makes you a nice person, puts you in serious 'people pleaser' danger.

This means you will have zero self- confidence and low self -esteem and here's the thing: when you have lost self- respect for yourself, everyone else loses respect for you too.

How is that a winning strategy for you?

Step Two - Grow your courage muscles

If you are saying no for the first time or saying no to those who you feel intimidated by or you are really close to, then you need to practise, plan and prepare how you are going to say no and how to respond calmly to possible reactions from the other person.

After I resigned as a 'people pleaser' I got courageous and asked for what I wanted from my boss; a raise, even though it felt TERRIFYING.

Guess what? I got it.

Try bookending; If you feel fearful, call someone you trust before taking the action and after. It really works as it means once you commit to someone else, you are more likely to not opt out, also they will champion and support you to take the action. If for whatever reason you feel shame around saying no or guilt a good friend will reiterate what a superstar you are for setting a boundary and saying no.

Every day when I coach my clients I ask them to say no to one person each week and guess what?

They get results.

So now I'm asking you:

Step Three - Drop the 'nice' syndrome and say no

If I can change from being a people pleaser to becoming empowered, so can you!

It doesn't take any special talents, assets or skills, just the willingness to do it.

Believe me, you don't know how good it's feels when you say no and have people respect you for it.

I want you to promise yourself - if you ever catch yourself allowing others to take advantage of you STOP!

Take a moment... Breathe.

Remind yourself: wanting to be thought of as 'the nice one' is not being authentic and is not a good look.

The more we seek approval, the less we get, the less we seek approval the more we get.

Never underestimate the power of the spoken word, whether to ourselves or another person; what we say to ourselves feeds our beliefs and in turn our perception of the world. The brain hears this mental chatter and believes it to be fact and will adjust accordingly.

Do not feel you need to justify, explain and defend as some people are masters at manipulating others to do what's best for them, so stand firm and speak in a serene, rational manner and say no with conviction.

Get out and MAKE IT HAPPEN and trust it works.

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