Women: How to Say ‘No’ during the Holidays (& Year-Round)

dreamstime_xs_26888857Men expect more than women when it comes to “having it all,” according to a new study by Citi and LinkedIn titled, “Today’s Professional Woman Report.”

More men than women define the good life as including a strong and loving marriage with children – 79 percent, compared to 66 percent of women. And 9 percent of women do not include personal relationships in their pursuit of success – up from 5 percent in the previous survey.

“This study may be an indicator not so much that women want less than men; it may simply mean that women are feeling overwhelmed by the many roles they accept in life, and they believe wanting a happy work-life balance is asking for too much,” says Dr. Jaime Kulaga, a practicing therapist, life coach and author of “Type ‘S’uperWoman – Finding the Work-Life Balance: A Self-Searching Book for Women,” (www.mindfulrehab.com).

“In fact, I haven’t met a woman in my life who hasn’t taken on an exponential amount of roles – far more than is good for any one person. From wife to professional to cook to chauffeur, women simply do not know how to say no, even when they want to.”

While the holiday season is supposed to be a time when family members rejoice with family and free time, Dr. Kulaga says women often dread this time of year because of the additional roles to be taken on. She offers perspective for why saying “no” more often is good for them.

• An inability to say “no” is based in fear. Why can’t we just say no? It’s because we’re afraid of the consequences. Mostly, we are afraid of feeling guilt, feeling a sense that we are diminished in the eyes of others and, overall, that we will somehow lose something. Decisions based in fear, however, are often negative ones as they tend to be entrenched in irrationality or “impulsivity”. Try to decide things based on what you want, and not what you’re attempting to avoid.

• Women who can’t say “no” have less, not more; be mindful. Mindfulness is an excellent way to pare down the number of roles so many women assume; it’s the antidote for women who smile and nod “yes” when their brains are screaming “no,” and then go into the bathroom to cry. There is plenty of talk about women who “want it all” – and we can have it all, if we focus on what is really important and narrow the list of roles down to a manageable number.

• By saying “no” to some things, you’re saying “yes” to others. As mortal individuals, our time and resources are limited. We simply cannot take on Dr. Jaime Kulagaall the roles others would have us accept and still have time for the things that truly matter to us. Working late each night, for example, means having less time for your family – or yourself! When women list their priorities, it’s almost always in relation to the needs of others, and not themselves. It’s not only OK, it’s healthy to want time and other things for oneself!

Dr. Jaime Kulaga, Ph.D, LMHC, CPC: Motivated by watching those she coaches become successful and with a true passion for helping others, Dr. Jaime Kulaga earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology, and master’s and doctorate’s in counseling. As a licensed mental health counselor and certified professional coach, she has a special interest in the complex lives of today’s women. She serves as a go-to expert resource for Bay News 9, the Tampa Bay area’s 24-hour news channel, and as a coach for individuals, couples and business people.

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