One of the most important life skills is understanding how to choose what is good for oneself. When you know and pursue what is good for you, you will be in a better position to make positive changes and enjoy life. When you have a better understanding of what you would like to do and what you ought to do, balancing life becomes easier and more enjoyable. This is why learning to say no is a critical skill that everyone needs to learn.
Of course, being flexible is important when making decisions in life. However, there are those who, for various reasons ranging from low self-esteem to feelings of depreciated self-worth, overly yield to the extent of losing themselves. These people need to learn the importance of saying no.
You should understand that, while it is okay to offer a helping hand once a while, you should always make yourself a priority. Don’t stretch yourself too thin to have time for self-care. In this article, we examine the importance of saying no and how you can learn to do it.
Why Do People Find It Challenging to Say No?
Despite that we all live increasingly busy lives, there are often requests from others to help them with tasks. You may find that you are being asked by friends and colleagues to take on responsibilities and duties you have no time or energy for.
Many people find it hard to decline requests because they have a genuine desire to help. Or maybe you are procrastinating getting started on another job so you find it easier to take on tasks that seem more enjoyable. While these additional responsibilities may offer some form of distraction, you may find yourself overwhelmed when the deadline for the postponed task arrives.
Others find it hard to say no because they feel flattered that they have been asked for help. You may also be afraid of offending someone.
There are also those who find it hard to say no because they lack self-confidence. You may disagree with something or may be too busy to complete a task, but you are not confident enough to stand your ground. Or you may feel pressured to give a response straight away. In other words, you have not given yourself a chance to consider what you really want.
What Are the Signs That You Are a People-Pleaser?
It is important to mention that people-pleasing is not always a bad thing. In any case, there is nothing wrong with being nice to others and wanting to help out once in a while. However, people-pleasing can sometimes go beyond simple acts of kindness. It may include changing our behaviors or editing our words for the sake of others’ reactions or feelings.
Often, people-pleasers tend to go out of their ways to perform acts for those they are in relationships with, based on what they assume those individuals desire or need. In the process, they give up the time they could have spent taking care of their own needs. You may end up giving up your energy and time, trying to make people like you.
Here are some notable signs that you may be a people-pleaser:
- You have a low opinion regarding your self-worth
- You need that people like you
- You find it hard to say no, even when overwhelmed
- You apologize even when wronged
- You hastily agree to things, even when you are not sure
- You find it hard to recognize your feelings
- You get excessively upset because of conflicts or arguments
Why Is It Important to Learn to Say No?
Learning to say no comes with many benefits, including allowing people to express their honest feelings and opinions. If, for instance, you don’t feel like attending an event, learning to speak up fosters a culture of truthfulness, even if the recipient is uncomfortable with the honesty.
Saying no also empowers you. So many people are pushed to perform tasks or attend events simply because they lack the ability or confidence to decline. Many people want to please others, but being eager to impress can push you so far that it affects your mental health. You may even start resenting people for pushing you into doing things you are not comfortable with.
Saying no when presented with uncomfortable situations also shows that you value and prioritize your needs and feelings. It can help you build your self-confidence in the long-term.
By saying no, you may actually be opening doors for other important things. There are those who are afraid of saying no in the fear of missing out on opportunities or activities. In actual sense, however, by saying no to something you don’t like, you may be creating room for other more enjoyable activities.
When you say no, you also:
- Create room to focus on priorities
- Allow others who are interested to say yes
- Get a chance to relax and avoid stress.
How to Learn to Say No
While wanting to please others may not be inherently bad, there are situations where saying no is the ideal thing for your own interests. Most of the time, trying to impress other people by acting as a people-pleaser means that you abandon your own needs and feelings. You risk being resentful and frustrated. Also, people may start to take advantage of you unless you start to say no.
Say No Often
To avoid being taken advantage of and to prevent stress and burnout, you should start saying no more often. An ideal point to start is by recognizing that it is okay to say no. Appreciate the fact that declining offers will help you, and you can start to have the confidence to put it into action.
Don’t Feel Guilty for Saying No
You should prepare yourself for negative reactions from others. Of course, not all people will appreciate your decision to decline their offers and suggestions. However, as long as you understand your reasons for the decision, everything is okay.
Also, you should resist the urge to apologize when people get offended by your decision to say no. In other words, don’t feel guilty about saying no. When you show confidence, others will be more understanding of your stand.
Take Some Time to Decide
Another important tip is to avoid responding if you are unsure of your response. Don’t feel pressured to give a response immediately. By deferring your answer, you get time to consider options and make an informed decision. Take some time to think about your answer, even if it is just a few minutes. Most importantly, don’t be afraid of the criticism that may arise from your response.
Consider Getting Professional Help
No doubt about it: learning how to say no is hard. You worry about disappointing others. You fear being disruptive. And you can’t set personal boundaries. So personal problems can start piling up. To deal with them a live a happy life, talk with a licensed therapist online.
A therapist will help you:
- Improve self-esteem
- Get the feeling responsibility for your choice
- Embrace the freedom of your actions
- Listen to your needs
- Discover your power to influence and control your life fully
In this article, we have explored why it is important to say no. Oftentimes, the urge to make others happy can be overwhelming. However, there are many benefits linked to standing your ground and putting your interests first. Listen to your feelings and make yourself and your needs a priority.
Kate has a B.S. in Psychology and M.A. in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University and has worked in healthcare since 2017. She primarily treated depression, anxiety, eating disorders, trauma, and grief, as well as identity, relationship and adjustment issues. Her clinical experience has focused on individual and group counseling, emergency counseling and outreach.Read more