I used to struggle with saying “no”. I always wanted to feel that people could count on me and I would always feel guilty if I refused to do something. I myself don’t like being told no. The feeling of being rejected or denied to do something feels like something inside me is burning; crushed and somewhat hurt. I like helping people, it makes me feel like it’s an accomplishment and people will like me more. Being accepted. I’m the youngest in my family and it’s quite natural to be asked to do things; little favours. To me, saying no might come off as rude, so I’ve grown up with it and hence, it’s become a part of me.

Whenever I didn’t want to do something, I’d only say it in a subtle way, but would always feel awkward and guilty. This was to family and friends. This kind of behaviour prevents self-respect, emotional intelligence, dignity, control, from self-growth and self-development. Over the years I realize that I should do what I want, and not do things for the sake of others all the time. I must act on my own wants and needs. I’d notice some other friends that have the same struggle, and does almost everything they’re asked to. I noticed that this could be harmful, especially if they bottle everything up and keep it inside. It’s only a matter of time that they can’t handle it anymore. It’s an eye opener, so I slowly started saying no, but followed by an excuse. Why should you feel bad for having a voice, an opinion and limits to do certain things? You weren’t made to always say yes to others, when you have your own priorities.

Being asked for help or favours, one can only feel obligated to help, be it a small or big matter. There comes a time, sooner or later, that the realisation that you have a hard time saying no to people. You’ll find yourself in a situation, thinking, “Don’t do it if you don’t want to. Say no. No. Sorry. No. I can’t do it.” but those words can barely be uttered. Instead, you would end up saying “yes, sure”. These are those kinds of favours that you know you’d be willing to do because they’re feasible, but there are also ones that can be quite burdensome. There’s a strong sense of responsibility and necessity, and with that, comes a lot of pressure.

No one likes to disappoint people and you’d detest to put your relationship with someone into conflict, and that’s an issue. You can’t seem to say no even if you want to. We need to tell ourselves “You should really put yourself first”, and be strong and just say no. We can’t always feel torn and distressed whenever we have to say no to people because that guilt can be uncomfortable, scary and it gets mentally exhausting.

Here are some reminders for myself and the readers who seem to share the same struggle:

  1. Saying no doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. It’s a sign of maturity. You will know what’s more important to you.
  2. You can’t say yes to everything. People depend on you, and they start giving you all types of task, but as much as you can do everything, you’ll eventually crash, and end up moaning and groaning.
  3. Self-growth. If you accept everything people ask you to do, you won’t be yourself. You need to grow as a person, do what you want to do.
  4. Your goals matter the most. If you are always offering help to others, then how do you concentrate on what you want to contribute, your growth or creativity. You have a choice between yes and no, so you should take a moment to consider if your choice will bring you closer to your own priorities and goals.
  5. You don’t need a reason. It’s totally normal to reject something and giving a reason. But it’s also normal and okay to not give a reason. You don’t need to have an excuse for the choices you make. You should know that you don’t owe anyone any sort of clarification.

We must learn to be confident in saying no, to value ourselves, to defend our rights and to seek relationships with good principles; respect and loyalty. This is a special skill for some, and it is one of the greatest favours you can make for yourself. It reduces your workload and stress level, and it will let you make time to do what you really care.

It’s okay to say no. You have every right to say yes or no to anything because you need to put yourself first and value your time and yourself as a person, otherwise you’re just inviting unnecessary stress in your life. So… here’s to saying no and not feel bad about it. Being honest about what you need on a given day is a form of self-care, and it’ll help you avoid burnout.

Do you struggle saying No?