A people pleaser by nature, I used to suck at saying no to things I didn’t want to do. I’m reveling in the fact that as I get older, it is much easier to tell people no (and to go to hell, but that’s a post for another day). I want to be helpful and do as many things as I can to help others, but I’m also very aware of how I tick.
You Have a Right to Say No
If you are one of those people who instinctively says “Yes” when someone asks you for something (Hello, fellow people pleasers!), maybe you need to be reminded that it is okay to say no.
There are negative consequences to never saying no. Enabling someone who relies on you too much is a disservice to that person in not letting them figure things out for themselves. You will only end up feeling burnt out and put out. Doing things you don’t really enjoy or possibly missing out on something you do because you’re already obligated festers feelings of resentment.
Know Your Boundaries
Everyone has a different set of personality quirks, and it is important to be aware of what these are in order to set personal boundaries for what you agree to do and what you do not. For instance, socializing too often causes me to feel overwhelmingly drained and exhausted. I require a ton of downtime, that is just the way I am wired.
Some friends I absolutely adore wanted to have a pool party next weekend. However, I just got back from spending a girlfriend trip at the beach, going on a pub crawl last weekend, and have two commitments for the coming weekend. I’m already craving some alone time. I know that I will not be able to enjoy the pool party because I will be completely drained by then.
Always assess your own personal needs and desires before accepting something. If it’s going to cause you stress or make you resentful to do it, then it’s not worth it.
Don’t Cave to Persuasion Tactics
Anyone trying to guilt you into doing something for them by bringing up a favor they did for you or treating your no as an opening for a debate is toxic. Turn them down. You may want to spend some time evaluating whether you need to interact with them at all anymore.
There are those that will try to ask for something ‘smaller’ once you’ve turned down their original request. For instance they ask you to pick up their child from school and then watch them for the afternoon. You say no, so they offer to find someone else to pick up the child and drop them off at your house. If you are saying no because you really don’t want to babysit, don’t feel like you need to say yes because they lessened what they were asking for.
Another method is to mention that another person said yes, so you should too. Fuck that. You are not that other person. You are your own person with your own needs and desires.
Replace That Knee-Jerk Yes
Replace that “Yes” with “I’ll think about it”. This eliminates the pressure to answer that person immediately, and you have time to analyze whether you want to do it or not.
This helped me recently. I have been wanting a cat since having to put mine down a while back. One of my friends heard of a person that had kittens to give away and let me know. I really wanted to say yes, because I would love to have one again. But I told her I would get back to her the next day. When I took time to think it through I realized that getting a cat right now just doesn’t fit in with other priorities. To take the kitten right now would have caused additional stress in my life. After really evaluating the situation, it was easier to get back to her with a no.
No is Not Rude
If you feel like you aren’t being a good friend or are being rude when you say no, you can soften the refusal by mixing it in with a compliment or gratitude.
If someone asks you to take care of their pet while they are on vacation, you could say, “I’m sorry I won’t be able to help you out, but that means so much that you trust me with your sweet puppy”.
You are never under any obligation to make up an excuse if you don’t want to do something. In fact, creating a reason is very stressful in and of itself. Say no and don’t offer a reason why. Sometimes creating an excuse that doesn’t really exist will cause even more stress. Ever tell someone you couldn’t do something because you were sick? Then for the next two weeks you have to keep giving an update on your ‘illness’? That’s stressful.
Next time a friend invites you to a concert, you can just say, “I’m not a big fan of reggae music. I think I’ll skip this one.” It doesn’t have to turn into a conflict.
Curb the Guilt Monster
Once a no has been given, resist revisiting your answer. Focus on how good you feel avoiding something that was potentially draining or stressful. You should feel relieved and proud of yourself for knowing your limits and being respectful of yourself.
You Are Valuable
Sometimes the inability to say no is tied to one’s own self worth. If you feel that your wants and desires aren’t as important as others, work on building up your self-esteem. Try making time for yourself and exploring your interests. Avoid comparing yourself to others and set realistic goals.
For more ways to boost your self-worth, check out these previous blogs:
Going into hibernation,