How good are you at saying no? If it doesn’t come easily to you, you’re not alone.

We say yes to projects and people, and watch as the appointments and deadlines pile up. We think the cure is better time management and productivity hacks. In reality, we need to get clear on why we have such a hard time saying no to others.

We’re operating out of fear when we agree to something out of alignment with us. But the question is, what are we afraid of?

Will they think I’m not nice?
Will they think I’m making a mistake?
Will they see me as anything less than impressive and selfless?

Have the courage to lighten your load and examine why saying no is hard with these four questions.

What Do You Really Want To Say In This Situation?

We often hide our authentic selves in the name of “not wanting to hurt someone’s feelings.” But who is that serving? The person whose feelings you’re protecting isn’t getting the truth, and you’re not staying honest with yourself either. Instead, get clear on what it is you want to say, not how you want it to come off. Hold it, examine it, and build healthy communication around what really needs to be said.

What Are You Worried Will Happen If You Say No?

Let me guess, when you think about saying no, you see a whole scene from a movie play out. And I’m willing to bet the ending involves you or the other person storming out of the room. There’s a fear of confrontation at play here. Next time you’re scared to decline an invite, get behind what and why you’re afraid.

If You Were To Say Yes, What Priorities Or Goals Will Get Less Of Our Time?

When we say yes to something, we’re always saying no to something else. Let’s say you accept an invite to an after-work happy hour with coworkers — that takes away from quality time with your loved ones. Sometimes the trade-off is necessary or warranted, but it’s important to always consider what we’re giving up when we’re saying yes.

What Lesson Is This Situation Teaching You?

Nearly every interaction is an opportunity to learn and grow. When many of us say no, we learn that not meeting someone’s expectations isn’t the end of the world. Or better, that honoring our needs and goals is more important than the opinions of others. Next time you’re conflicted with saying no, sit in the feeling and ask yourself, what am I supposed to learn from this?