We all have times when someone asks us for a favor and we immediately agree whether we know what it involves or not. We also may have times where we are invited to something and immediately agree, without considering what it is and whether it fits into our schedules. Most of us are taught to be “Yes” individuals, people-pleasers, who say “yes” automatically, even if we may not want to. We’ve internalized the message that in order to be a good friend, partner, employee, or person we have to say “yes”. Let’s talk about how to say “no” in order to create more balanced lives and real relationships.
Focus on Your Feelings and Needs
Many have heard the saying, “You cannot care for others if you are not caring for yourself”. You are most important in your life, and deserve to put your feelings and needs first. When it comes to putting ourselves first, making ourselves a priority can feel quite challenging, especially if your needs conflict with a loved one’s needs. Initially, putting your needs first may feel selfish. However, it can be a really important part of self-care because setting healthy boundaries with others allows you to maintain the physical and emotional reserves necessary to care and support others effectively.
No As a Form of Respect
Saying “yes” when you do not want to can lead to feelings of resentment, which can negatively impact the relationship. When you say “no”, you show respect for both yourself and the other person because you are being honest and authentic - crucial qualities in a healthy relationship. Also, by saying “no”, you model this behavior for others in your life you set a positive example of how important it is to set healthy boundaries in quality relationships.
Saying “No” So You Can Say “Yes”
When we set up healthy boundaries and say “no” to something, we free up space to say “yes” to the things we want! When you politely decline an invitation, you allow yourself the opportunity to say “yes” to another activity you’d prefer whether it be another event with friends or just spending some quality time at home watching Netflix.
Practice Makes Perfect
By saying “no”, you practice setting boundaries and this then becomes something that is easier and more comfortable to do. To practice saying “no”, aim for low stakes situations. For example, declining a telemarketer that rings your phone. As you grow in confidence and comfort, you will have an easier time saying “no” in higher stakes situations such as when a friend asks for help with something and you are unable to do it.
Remember, it’s common to want to say “yes” and please others, however it’s important to not respond immediately. Take a moment to breathe and reflect on the request in order to determine whether it is one you can and want to perform. If it is, then saying “yes” is a true and authentic choice. Being able to say “no”, having the skills to do this, can allow you to become more authentic, honest and rid of any resentments.