There were times in my life that I thought I was certain I wanted to say “no” but will, at the last minute, chicken out and replace my answer with a meek "yes" instead.
I know I’m not the only one who feels that saying “no” is equivalent to denying yourself an opportunity that can make or break your life, especially since I'm the type of person who wants to experience everything than to live life with a lot of what ifs on my mind. But through the years, I've learned that there will come a time when we have to refuse certain things—even if you know that you’ll feel the need to hurl the very moment you tell them "no." Believe me, saying those two letters won't hurt—in fact, it'll be good for you.
Why People Can't Say 'No'
Don’t get me wrong, grabbing every opportunity that comes your way and being grateful isn’t bad at all. It’s just that sometimes, you need to know your limits and learn when to stop.
There are lots of reasons why people find it hard to say “no.” First, there are people pleasers who want to appease everyone without realizing that they’re leaving nothing for themselves. Then there are the spontaneous who love going with the flow and “yes” is the easiest word for them to say. There are also people who are too kind to refuse you when you ask for their help. Lastly, and this is somewhat connected to the first one, there are people with low self-esteem who struggle to say no because they fear becoming dead weight to and for other people.
No matter what reason you may have or which one you relate to the most, you have to learn how to say no, and know when to be vocal about your refusal.
The Effects of Always Saying 'Yes'
Personally, I still struggle with vocalizing my refusal because I'm afraid of disappointing other people. I thought that it would be unkind of me to rebuff. I know that isn't the healthiest way of thinking, but I'm slowly and surely changing my ways.
I was so used to saying yes all the time, but I have since learned from it. Constantly agreeing to people drained me—it left me tired of every single thing and made me almost give up on life. I metaphorically turned my back on everything until I felt well rested and surer of myself, of my capabilities, and my breaking point.
Finally Saying It
The very first time I said no to something, it felt more of a victory than a loss. Like a ton of weight was lifted off my chest. In my mind I was punching the air ala-Bender from The Breakfast Club—it was a small yet very significant victory.
When saying “no,” we should understand that we are not letting anybody down, nor are we rejecting a person, or refusing their proposal. There's a huge difference—it's better to be honest if you cannot give your 100% in something. Simply tell them your reasons why you’re refusing and find comfort in the fact that they will understand—and, actually, they should understand.
Remember: When someone proposes something to you, do not give in to the pressure of needing to answer immediately, especially if it isn’t a matter of life and death. Make sure to give yourself enough time to think, because saying “no” is a process; you weigh the pros and the cons when deciding. Take your time, sleep on it, and then you wake up and have a clearer mind. You’ll get to properly decide if agreeing to anything will be good for you.
Knowing what you want and need is also important. Before making a decision, you should listen to yourself. It might seem weird but, really, talk to yourself and figure out what you want and know what you can and can’t do. Assess yourself and try to learn what you’re capable of. It's better to refuse than to deliver half-assed work because it's obvious that you're too tired to work or what you're doing isn’t interesting enough for you.
Never feel bad when saying “no." You should have control over your life and don't let the people around you make the decisions for you. More than trusting yourself, finding your voice to refuse or to turn people down actually develops your sense of control and increases your self-worth.
Saying no is one of the best things that I have learned in life. I might have had some slip-ups here and there, but I know that in the future, I can be more firm than my old self. I just need to learn and go get some balls.
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Banner photograph from Reply Candy.