Learn How To Say No

Learn to say no as a part of better self-care

There are too many nice people in the world today…or so it might seem, with the number of “yes” folks you run into on a daily basis. However, what about the lesser heard “evil sibling”, the word “NO”?

As a child, you were raised to be considerate to others, and to accommodate them as much as possible.

How do you know exactly when enough is enough? And more importantly, are you saying no to yourself by saying yes to others every time? Chances are that is exactly what you are doing, even if only subliminally.

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A no to others is a yes to yourself.

Wondering when is the time for you to use your no’s effectively? Take a look and see.

Adding to your stress

Not being able to say no can greatly contribute to elevated stress and really quickly! Doing too much fuels feelings of overwhelm that cause chronic stress, and people who cannot say no are usually the first to fall victim.

It is important to understand your own boundaries and limitations, and while helping others is important, you absolutely must take care of yourself first.

This means sometimes saying no to friends and family, in order to maintain an optimal level of energy, health, and wellness for yourself.

Feeling you must

This is by far the most common cause of resentment in persons, since you are basically “forced” to say yes whether or not you want to. Maybe the person asking did a major favor for you in life, maybe it is a family member.

You feel a sense of obligation to always be at the beck and call for whatever that person requests of you, but you need to ask yourself “when is my bill paid in full?” will you continue to feel a forced sense of obligation forever?

This constant obligatory situation builds resentment, and resentment can literally make you physically ill!

You need to let them know you have to put yourself first, by doing what you need to do. If an issue arises, it may be best to sever ties and remove a toxic person from your life.

Staying up too late

Though it is fully understandable the need to unwind after a tiring week’s work, there is absolutely no justification for staying out late and drinking on a weekday when you have responsibilities to meet the next morning! It is more than likely the result of friends asking or guilting you out even though your better judgement says no.

You’re not doing yourself any favors as you will be sleep deficient the following day, not to mention likely hungover and miserable. Saying yes to that, is saying no to your well-being.

Enabling bad behavior

It has happened to all of us before, from your child asking for something, hearing no and slowly breaking you down, to much worse influences on your life.

From friends begging you for a loan, to unnecessary spending, while it may seem OK or insignificant at the time, it enables bad behavior and disrespect over the long haul.

When you say no, it needs to stay that way. You will gain infinite respect for having unbend-able beliefs and will be looked at as a pillar of strength.

Doormat behavior

There have undoubtedly been numerous times when you sat quietly seething while something (or someone) boils your blood to the point of an eruption, yet you show no outward emotions. This can range from a boss berating you in the office, a bully, or a random stranger who finds it appropriate to assert their dominance over you.

By allowing it, you are doing just that, rolling over and assuming the fetal position. Open your mouth, demand your respect and speak for what you believe in.

 “You can be a good person with a kind heart and still say no.”  -Lori Deschene

When you must temper your “NO”

Being agreeable

You want to be as helpful as possible at work. People are always coming up to you to ask for your help. Your boss gives you tasks because she knows you’ll get the work done on time. Your colleagues hit you up because you are one of the most knowledgeable people on staff. The trouble is, you then have a difficult time getting your own work done. When this happens, you need to learn how to say no.

There are ways to say no that won’t make you seem like the bad person. One great way to do this is to let people know you have other tasks and that you can get to their tasks after you complete yours.

Not when they are lazy

It is fine to help people out, but you should avoid doing their jobs for them. If someone asks you to do something simply because they don’t feel like doing it, you need to take a stand and tell them this is unacceptable. You should begin by asking why they can’t get to it. Perhaps someone else has given them more tasks to do. You need to show them how to say no to those other people.

Some people are, simply put… slackers. They try to pass off all their work to other people. When you find one of these people, confront them. If you do this early on, they will lose the control. This also demonstrates to your other colleagues that you won’t let a slacker have control, and they should follow suit.

Compromise is good

You’ll have a tougher time telling your boss no. She’s the boss after all. However, you do need to let her know that your plate is full and try to compromise. See if you can get a priority of the extra tasks your boss is piling on. Also, if others on the team are currently freed up from their tasks, see if they would be willing to take on those extra duties.

Keep your cool

It’s important to never become angry when others approach you with more work. Smile and find out why they are hitting you up for the extra work. It could be they are not aware of your schedule. You can produce your to-do list if this is the case.

By staying calm, you keep the control in your corner. If you blow up at people, they are going to consider you volatile which makes it difficult for them to compromise with you. It’s rarely a situation in which you will come up the winner. It is okay to be firm with people when you discover they are simply trying to pass work off to you.


NO” is not a bad word. It has been criminalized via society and the illusion that things must be OK all the time. You will only end up feeling put upon by others, and resenting yourself for being weak, and not ever doing what you want to do by allowing others to always walk all over you. You need to look after yourself before you look after anyone else after all, and lead by example!


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