The Liberating Nature of No: another 5 minute DIY Psychological Challenge.

DIY Psychological Challenge

My DIY psychological challenge to you for this week is to ask someone (outside your family) to do something where you expect the answer will be “No”.

Why Does Being Told “No” Feel So Bad

– People have a tendency to personalize it, when usually its not personal.

– We’re wired (due to evolution) to be exquisitely sensitive to any sign of social rejection. The reason for this is that in our evolutionary history being excluded from our tribe was something that was incredibly dangerous for our physical survival. Being told “No” can be, or can seem like, a form of social rejection so we’re very sensitive to it.

– Avoidance increases anxiety, so anything you’ve habitually avoided you’re likely to have become more anxious about over time. If you’ve been avoiding asking for things you want because you’ve been avoiding the awkwardness of potentially being told No, then you’re likely to have built up increased anxiety about this. The way to feel more comfortable is to practice hearing and accepting no. In this way, experiencing being told “no” can feel really good – liberating.

Avoiding potentially being told No is a great example of the costs of avoiding negative emotions.

Experiencing being told “no” usually involves a short sting of feeling awkward, disappointed, and rejected.

But, its really important to be able to tolerate temporary negative emotions and still enact your values/pursue your important goals.

At the risk of being patronizing, do put some effort into thinking about the best way to ask. At least for me, it makes a big difference when people’s requests of me are thoughtful and polite.