This is something I'm bad at. If someone asks for a favor, but you don't want to do it, how do you say no without feeling guilty, sounding rude, or making up some kind of lie about being too busy?
In retrospect, I realize I never had this skill modeled for me growing up. If you ask my mom for something, she will do it (even if it makes her all bitter martyr-y) or she will act like you should be ashamed of yourself for making such a ridiculous request.Silly Mom.
Did we have the same mother? Seriously?
For me, the not making up a lie was the hardest part. It was like I felt I couldn't refuse a request without an elaborate lie to make it seem like I just couldn't to the other person. It was hard work to be able to say no. But I try and do it nicely now. "I'm sorry I can't help this time", is a nice way of letting the other person know you thought about it, but can't.
Just remember, only you know what your schedule is, what your capable of, what works for your family. It's okay for someone to ask you for something. Just as much as it's okay for you to say no or yes. Either are perfectly acceptable answers. If someone is not okay with you saying no, that is not your problem. (Provided you have been rude or snotty.)
Role play it out with a friend, or therapist.
Start discerning between helping people and getting parasited...it can be a fine line sometimes! Some folks are really good, laterally-balanced friends. Some people just want to lean, lean, lean on you. Pay attention and invest yourself deliberately.
"No." It's a complete sentence. Or "No, I'm sorry I can't.'' "Oh, no, I wish I could though."
You don't owe anyone an explanation. It's hard at first, really really hard. But once you get used to saying no, it becomes much easier!
I'm working on this too!
I've decided to look upon certain people in my life with gratitude for giving the me chance to practice this skill.
but everything has pros and cons
This has always been hard for me too. If I want to consider it, I will just say "let me get back to you." If I know I don't want to I say "I'd love to (which I guess is a lie...), but its not going to work out. Sorry." It is actually really empowering once you start doing it and realize you can just say NO! I always try to remember also that when I say yes to something, it means I am automatically saying no to something else. ie...Yes, I can watch your 8 kids while you go out to dinner = no, I can't have a nice peaceful dinner at home with my own family and I'm going to spend 2 hours cleaning up afterwards. Considering what I am saying "no" to when I say yes to something else also helps me.
My Mom actually taught me this one:
"I'm going to have to pass"
The more they keep asking, the more you keep saying it. Eventually they will get the hint and you don't have to feel rude! :)
DS: Logan 6/14/10
For me it would help to have examples of what kinds of things you are asked to do that you don't want to do, but I agree with the general advice you've gotten: "I'm going to have to pass" or "I'm sorry but I can't" really are enough, you don't owe anyone an explanation.
And I think that's a good place to start.
I do also think though, that as time goes on and hopefully that gets easier/more comfortable/less awkward to say, it is worth it to experiment with telling more of the truth. Example: my husband has recently made friends with another father of a child who lives right in our neighborhood with his family. On the surface we have a lot in common with them: about the same age, one kid each about the same age, and we live nearby. And I also really like the husband. But the wife and their child... not my favorite people. Their son is so negative, which I really believe he gets from having no boundaries set for him at all and getting what he wants by whining all the time, after spending time with them our daughter starts to mimic some of those whining behaviors and pouty faces - things she rarely does otherwise. We nip it in the bud pronto, but it makes me not want to spend much time around them myself, especially since my free time is so limited.
So the wife has asked me several times to either go with her somewhere (she never wants to bring her son and I like to bring my daughter most places, so right there we want different things cuz she wants to do things you can't do with kids) or come over with her son, and I pretty much always not only say no but say a little bit about why "We're on our way out to visit family" (if it's true); "We're having a mommy-daughter day and want to just hang out the two of us" (always a good backup if we don't have other plans); or "I'm so tired, not up for socializing" (almost always true in this case!).
Not only should you never feel any shame for just not being up for something, I think it's healthy and useful to be able to let people know a little about why. The people who try to argue with you or change your mind... probably not worth spending much time with anyway.