Why It’s Okay to Say No
Do you often put pressure on yourself to do things you don’t want to do? Things other people expect you to do or things you know you should do? You say yes because you want to be liked, it’s easier than confrontation, you don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings and so on.
The problem with being a people pleaser is that you are putting everyone else’s needs before your own. I’m not advocating selfishness, but there is a line between giving and over-giving.
The difference between being agreeable and too agreeable
Being agreeable isn’t a bad quality; it means you’re empathetic and easy to get along with. It’s when you’re too agreeable that others can take advantage of you.
Signs you are too agreeable:
- Saying yes to things you don’t have time to do
Do you take on more projects at work than you can handle? Do you agree to make cookies for your daughter’s bake sale, even though you’re working late all week?
- Calling a truce when you’re still in pain
When you’ve felt betrayed, do you accept your spouse’s apology simply to end the conflict? Do you lie and say everything is okay, even when it’s not?
- Agree with opinions you don’t believe
When someone is gossiping at the office, do you join in, even if you don’t agree with what they’re saying?
In these examples, you are saying yes at the expense of your happiness, your morals and values, and in some cases, your mental and physical health. In fact, research indicates that the harder it is for someone to say no, the greater the likelihood of that person experiencing greater stress, feelings of burnout and depression.
“We live under this misconception that saying yes, being available, always at the ready for other people, makes us a better person, but in fact it does quite the opposite,” according to Susan Newman, social psychologist and author of The Book of No. “You get stressed and anxious; you’re viewed as a patsy.”
When you’re afraid to say no, remember these three principles:
1. It’s time to stop putting yourself last
If you put everyone else’s needs ahead of your own, you will become mentally and physically drained. By always giving to others and never asking for what you want, you will be unhappy and unfulfilled. Take a bubble bath, start writing that bestseller, take that trip you’ve always wanted – whatever brings you joy; you deserve it!
Taking care of yourself isn’t selfish. The key is learning to balance kindness and courteousness without sacrificing your own sense of self-worth.
2. Accept that you can’t control others’ opinions of you
It’s human nature to want to be liked by others. But it’s inevitable that you will meet someone who dislikes you, often by no fault of your own. It’s hard not to take it personally, but you will drive yourself crazy if you waste your time and energy trying to change their mind. In these cases, it’s best to simply cut your losses and walk away from those negative relationships.
3. Setting boundaries shows that you respect yourself, and others will respect you as a result
The first step to setting boundaries is to personally validate your own feelings and forget about everyone else’s opinions. If you don’t take yourself seriously, how can you expect anyone else to?
Think about how good it will feel when you are being authentic. Think about how proud you will be of yourself. Now, hold on to that feeling. It’s that feeling that will propel you forward and move you past the fear.