The inability to say no stems simply from an eagerness to please. We struggle to say no because we’re scared of what will happen if we do…
Perhaps the other person will get angry, think less of us – maybe they’ll even abandon us.
We might even take comfort in knowing we’re the “helpful” one – whether that’s at work, with friends or in our relationships. Our never-ceasing reliability has become part of our identity. And knowing people rely on us provides us with a sense of importance. It helps us feel worthy.
We’re not born with the inability to say no. In fact, to the contrary. As children, we find it easy to say no. So, if this is something we struggle with in adult life, it means it was learnt.
Aren’t we all stuck in these situations and don’t know where to go from there? Unable to understand how could I ever said, NO to them and just freed myself from this.
As a psychologist, what if we could tell you, “You are allowed to say no”, “you can create your boundaries with any individual”.
Saying no can create more mental health stability by helping with self-care and build your self-esteem and confidence by setting boundaries. Saying no may be a daunting thing to do, but there are ways to make the process a bit easier.
One of the first steps to harnessing the power of no is to find a way to say no that feels natural and authentic for you. Perhaps you may find the “sandwich method” helpful. The sandwich method is an approach that involves sandwiching something that individuals may consider negative between two positives. Tell the person something positive followed by the no and end with something supportive or positive. For example: “Thank you for inviting me. I really appreciate you including me and being thoughtful; however, I won’t be able to make it. I would still really enjoy meeting up with you. I’ll look at my schedule for some dates I’m available, so we can spend some time together.”
We all have various roles in our work, parenting, social obligations, and family dynamics. These roles can challenge our abilities to set boundaries. Learning about yourself and finding your inner power is crucial to your health and wellbeing.
Consider setting boundaries around goals you have for yourself. For example, if one of your goals is to create a better work-life balance, you may say “no” to a call or meeting outside your normal work hours using some of the techniques outlined above.
Saying yes or no to something can also be effective in something as small as your social media. Understand that not everyone is a friend and it’s ok to say no to a friend request. If you are uncomfortable with certain posts from followers perhaps you can tailor as much as possible what comes across your feeds. Sometimes these small steps towards setting boundaries can dramatically improve your mental health.
Boundaries can be flexible when appropriate. Take time to reassess your boundaries, taking into account the pros and cons. And remember: Boundaries do not have to be permanent.
Prioritize your feelings and needs: You are the most important person in your life, after all, and deserve to put your own feelings and needs at the center of your life. You are worth it. This can feel quite challenging, especially when your needs conflict with those of someone you care deeply about. While prioritizing your own needs over those of someone else might sound selfish, it can be a profound act of self-care and highlights the importance of saying no.
Let's start using the word "no" when we want to!