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How to Say No
How to say no and why you need to! Saying no is essential to our mental health, happiness, and quality of life. There comes a point when saying yes does more harm to ourselves than it does good for others. Then it is time to learn how to say no.
Saying no can be difficult though, for a variety of reasons. Humans are social creatures, and we want to be liked and accepted by almost everyone we come in contact with. Saying no creates the possibility that someone may view us negatively, or not like us.
We are people pleasers. I’m totally guilty of this. I want everyone around me to be happy, so I’ll go out of my way to make sure it happens. But that means I sacrifice my own happiness, and why I had to learn how to say no.
Why it is okay to say no when necessary
You don’t owe anything to anyone
Your life is yours, and yours alone. Don’t let yourself feel obligated to do something for someone else, especially when you can’t or simply don’t want to. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for saying no to anything.
You’re not obligated to say yes
Just because someone asks, doesn’t mean the answer has to be yes. When someone says “can I ask a question or a favor?” My reply is, “you can always ask.” But I make absolutely no promises that you’ll like the answer. That’s my fair warning that I have the confidence to say no when necessary.
The other problem with saying yes all the time is the things you should have said no to start taking up far too much of your time. These things can become overwhelming and monopolize the time you should have spent on the things you actually wanted to say yes to.
It could make someone dislike you
Awesome! If someone dislikes me simply for saying no, they weren’t meant to be part of my life in the first place. It is just that simple. I’ve often found that saying no is the easiest way to weed these people out and move on.
Don’t ever be afraid to say no because you think someone will dislike you. If this is still a struggle for you, please scroll up to the part where I said your life is yours and repeat it with me.
Also be wary of people who use the term selfish when talking about you simply because they dislike the fact you know how to say no.
People will respect you more
When you easily and constantly say yes to everything, people will both take you for granted and take serious advantage of you.
You show others how to treat you based on your standards and how far you can be pushed and are willing to tolerate it. If you allow yourself to be treated like a doormat, that’s exactly what will happen. You show your respect for yourself when you say no, and that’s exactly how people will treat you.
Self respect is a form of self-care that should never be ignored! Saying no is another step in becoming the best version of yourself.
Your happiness is important
Yes, you! Your happiness is important. Remember when flying they always tell you in case of an emergency to put your own oxygen mask on first, before you start assisting anyone else? Why? Because you can’t help anyone else if you’re dead or incapacitated. Which is a bit dramatic in this scenario, but it still makes perfect sense.
If you’re filling up your time with things you should have said no to, you’re going to be miserable. Being miserable is nothing but a giant energy suck. That means you have less time and energy for the things that really do matter, like your family, friends, and most importantly, yourself.
How to Start Saying No
It can and likely will feel like you’re letting everyone down when you say no, and that’s completely normal. Don’t stress about it. Just start small, and practice. Because with almost everything in life, it gets easier the more you do it.
If you need help practicing, go stand in front of the mirror and just practice saying no out loud.
Or, ask your spouse, kids, best friend, whoever is close to ask hypothetical favors of you that are pet peeves or currently irritating you because you already want to say no. Have them ask, then practice saying no.
Take Your Time
Honestly, making yourself less available to people is a great first step in saying no. Many times, we make time for people because that’s what we think is expected. I use my do not disturb function on my phone for this all the time. It shows people I’m busy and respecting my own time and not allowing for disruptions.
Plus, there’s no law saying we have to respond to anyone immediately. My favorite phrase is, unless you’re dying or having a medical emergency, I’m busy.
Taking time to respond also gives you the opportunity to prepare yourself. You can take the time to decide if it is something you want to say yes or no to. Be intentional about it.
Keep it simple and brief. No. No means no. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for anything. Explanations just give the other person time to argue, find some loophole, or put pressure on you. If you have kids, especially pre-teens, you already likely know exactly how that works. Unfortunately, even adults will use these same manipulative tactics to get what they want, which is you shrinking back and rescinding that no into a yes. You want to be brief and firm. No.
Offer Other Options
If it is possible, offer up another solution that doesn’t involve you saying yes and being unhappy. There is nothing wrong with offering other possible solutions.
This is also a great way to feel better about saying no, because it still feels like you’re helping in some way. But you’re not compromising your own time and happiness.
Stand Your Ground
The more you give in to people, the more they’ll ask and take from you. Stand your ground and say no. By doing so, you’re not allowing them room to take advantage of you. Stay strong, and just keep saying no. It may take a few times, but people do get the message and it’ll end.
Knowing how to say no and when to say it can be like a breath of fresh air when you’re feeling overwhelmed, struggling, or simply being taken advantage of. I’m here to tell you from personal experience that when you say no, it really will free up your time and energy and make life a lot more enjoyable. You’ll find you appreciate your loved one even more, because you have the energy to devote to those who really do matter.
Do you know how to say no? Are you good at it? If so, how did you learn how to say no? Do you have any tips to add in here? Do you struggle with saying no? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!