what’s your FONO? (your fear of saying no)

you’ve probably heard of this one…

FOMO = the fear of missing out

i know i totally have this fear. 

(my best friend used to laugh at me when we were in university – i always had to be the last to leave any party or event for fear of missing out! i come by it naturally, my mom is the exact same way.) 

and i know it is the reason why i often say yes to things when i should probably say no.

NO is something that i’m working on these days. my instinct is to say yes to everything! but the trouble is that our time and energy are finite… there is only so much to go around! and this means a yes to one thing is a no to something else. 

so i know that i need to start working on my NO.

and i am starting with looking at the reasons why we feel compelled say yes to everything. 

what are our fears of saying no?

the fear of missing out

this could be a simple as missing out on something that might be really fun all the way to missing out on a huge opportunity to gain success or earn money or make a connection with someone important.

related to this is the fear that we are going to make the wrong decision and live to regret that decision for a long, long time.

the fear of losing out

if we say no, someone might think we are a bitch. or think we are not as nice as we make ourselves out to be. we worry that we will upset someone. or let them down. or disappoint them. people might not like us anymore! 

this fear is about losing out on love, or losing the high opinion that others have for you, or losing out on the trust you have built, or perhaps losing their confidence in you.

the fear of flaking out

sometimes we say yes to things because we feel like we should. we feel obligated, perhaps because of the things we’ve said yes to in the past, or because of expectations that people have of us, or maybe it’s because we feel that there is no other choice.

i call this a fear of flaking out because we don’t want to be seen as going back on our word or our obligation. we don’t want to be seen as being unreliable or untrustworthy. we don’t want people to think we can’t do it (when we should be able to do it.)

the fear of bowing out

there are some situations where we feel like no one else can do it like we can, that maybe others would get it wrong or screw it up, or perhaps like everything will fall apart without our involvement.

this fear can make it hard to let go – to bow out and let someone else say yes to that thing, so that you can have the time and energy to say yes to other things in your life.

the fear of standing out

“everyone else is doing it!” ah, famous last words. this is a fear that if we don’t do it too we will look like a loser, or look totally unprofessional, or be seen as some hack who has no clue. it’s a throw back to the peer pressure that our parents warned us about when we were teenagers – “well if everyone else is doing it i better say yes too!”

this is about not wanting to stand out as the loser in a crowd and it is also about being afraid to stand up for ourselves… just in case we rock the boat. it’s easier to go with the flow.

hmmmm. do any of these sound familiar? can you think of any others?

the first step when it comes to dealing with fear is to put it out there. fear grows in dark, secret, silent places. so know your fear… put a name on it, shine a light on it.

then, when faced with the saying NO and feeling that fear creep in, ask yourself – is this real? will saying NO actually result in these things happening? probably not. so let it go.

lastly, remember that saying NO to someone else is the same as saying YES to you. saying NO to something that you’re not really into is the same as saying YES to something you really love. why would we be nice to everyone and everything else, yet be so mean to ourselves? 

be nice to you first. 

it’s ok to say no.

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