Saying “No” In Recovery

Setting boundaries and saying “no” is often a very difficult skill for addicts and alcoholics to learn, seeing as codependency to some degree frequently goes hand-in-hand with substance dependency. Unfortunately, unless a recovering addict learns to say “no” he or she will be faced with circumstances that may compromise his or her sobriety. If an addict takes on too much responsibility early on and neglects him or herself in any way, the risk for relapse increases significantly. Here are several negative repercussions of being a “yes man”.

Saying “No” Is An Important Skill In Early Recovery

  • Your work will more than likely be poorly executed regardless of what it is – work-work, schoolwork, or work on yourself. Putting only half as much effort into what truly matters will inevitably hurt you in the long run.
  • You may begin to take on the work of others rather than delegating properly. Overwhelming yourself with tasks that are not your responsibility to begin with will cause you to form resentments.
  • If you say yes constantly to commitments you may not want to take on, you are likely to begin sacrificing personal goals.
  • You may begin sacrificing sleep, exercise, and free time spent with friends or on personally fulfilling activities.

Fortunately, learning to say “no” in a polite way is not at all difficult, it only takes a little bit of conviction and an ample amount of sincerity. If you truly have too much on your plate and cannot take on any more responsibility, don’t be afraid to say so. There are kind and effective ways in which to reject people without hurting their feelings or causing any tension within the relationship. Here are several examples:

  • “I really appreciate you thinking of me, unfortunately I am swamped and won’t have any real free time for quite awhile.”
  • Unfortunately because of the point I am at in my own life, I don’t feel that would be the best idea for me right now. Possibly sometime down the line.”
  • “I wish I could – I simply don’t have the time.”

Be sure to avoid apologizing excessively – stand firm in your refusal while remaining polite. Don’t make promises you have no intention of keeping. For instance, don’t say, “I can’t now, but next week…” if you truly do not plan on making time, or sincerely don’t want to make any future commitments. Saying “no” takes practice, but it is a practice that will pay off immensely in the long run!

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