Are you a people pleaser?
Do you often put other people’s feelings before your own?
If you answered yes than please listen. It’s okay to think about yourself by saying no to others. Don’t allow that guilty feeling of having to turn downvoters stop you from lifting yourself up.
For a word with just one syllable, “no” packs a powerful punch and often comes with a lot of hesitancy. Whether from the fear of missing out or hate that guilty feeling, saying “no” is an internal struggle we just can’t shake.
According to the University of Waterloo’s Dr. Vanessa Bohns, “saying ‘no’ feels threatening to our relationships and the feeling of connectedness,” our most fundamental needs since the days of hunting and gathering. Moreover, we’re also culturally conditioned to think that saying “no” prevents us from getting ahead in life.
So, how can you break the “yes” cycle? By taking control of your life and asserting your boundaries. Let’s look at five reasons it’s ok to say “no.”
If you have an overwhelming need to make others happy at the expense of your own wants and needs, you most likely have a difficult time saying “no.” While your heart is in the right place, being accommodating to others goes beyond kindness when you’re guessing their wants and needs in an attempt to be seen in a favorable light. This is called people-pleasing.
According to Christine Carter, Ph.D. Senior Fellow at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, people-pleasing is a “subtle and unconscious attempt at manipulating people’s perception of you. Anytime we do something that is about influencing what others think of us, we end up out of integrity with ourselves.”
From pretending to be agreeable to avoid feeling guilty, saying “yes” when you really mean “no” is not living as your authentic self and can have consequences for your relationships and overall happiness.
Your values are your guiding pillars, i.e., the fundamental beliefs that help you decide what’s important and what’s not. They’re clear, distinct, and actionable but sometimes to know our values we can’t be afraid to say “no.”
Whether you went to college just to make your parents happy, or you have a job that requires you to spend most of your time indoors when you’d rather be outside, we’ve all been in situations where we sacrificed our values in an attempt to appease those around us.
Saying “no” allows you to live a more intentional life, one that you can look back on with no regrets or guilty feelings. You’ll also be less likely to feel taken advantage of and people may even learn to come to you for things you’re more inclined to say “yes” to.
Moreover, despite the disappointment a “no” may bring to others, you’ll have the confidence not to take it personally as you’ll be living a life driven by your goals and values.
Saying “no” to others means saying “yes” to yourself. And contrary to popular belief, standing your ground isn’t selfish or makes you unlikeable; rather, it gives you respect from others and helps you draw boundaries around your mental health and well-being.
Harnessing the power of “no” and without guilt is an act of liberation, but saying “yes” can be a difficult habit to break. Here are a few tips to remember when saying “no”:
- Keep it short and sweet. There’s no need to explain your decision, but if you feel an explanation is necessary be clear and concise with its delivery.
- There will always be opinions. The fear of saying “no” often stems from the need to be perceived positively by others, but at the end of the day opinions are just that — opinions — and you can’t control them. Don’t let the fear of someone seeing you negatively stop you from saying “no.”
- Remember self-preservation. This is the intersection of doing for others and doing for yourself. Strive for balance.
- Stick with your decision. Don’t let others wear you down or bully you. There’s peace in knowing you made the right decision for yourself.
4. To Avoid the Guilty Feeling of Saying “Yes”
Do you find yourself unable to say “no” to your boss despite an unsustainable workload? Do you fear not being perceived as a team player? It’s time to start saying “no.”
According to psychologist Scott Bea, PsyD, “overdoing anything — including saying ‘yes’ — can have painful consequences.” From less time devoted to activities you enjoy to feelings of anger and resentment, saying yes creates a lack of balance in life and can impact your health in the form of stress and burnout.
From nervous and skeletal to gastrointestinal and cardiovascular, stress affects all systems in the body. When left unchecked it can manifest into several health problems, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
So, before you say yes, think about prioritizing your health instead. After all, you are the most important person in your life and your needs deserve to be met.
And you only have one life to live.
Saying no is an act of empowerment, allowing you to take charge of your destiny and lead a self-actualized life. The more you master saying “no,” the easier it will be to fill your life with the activities you enjoy and the people you love the most.