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What it means to say 'No'

Believe it or not, a lot of people often have a hard time saying no especially when it means putting themselves first or when considering other people’s feelings. I’m aware, this isn’t everybody and some people find it easier to say no and establish their boundaries which is great and something which I am also working towards.

Of course I’m aware there are limits and sometimes saying no isn’t always appropriate or helpful, for example, you might not feel like going into work, but you know you need the money or a loved one has asked you to help them with a task and you have the time to be able to do this. Sometimes it needs to be weighed up but no’s are definitely important. This is one thing I have struggled with most of my life and it has often left me feeling awkward, guilty, confrontational, and uncomfortable.

Growing up, I found myself wanting to people please and put others first along with their needs. This meant I hardly ever said no, even when I wanted to. It also meant that my wants and needs were put on the backseat and not prioritised. In the last couple of years, I have challenged myself to say no more because I realised by pleasing people, I was doing myself a huge disservice and forgetting that my needs and wants were highly important. I have written a list of what saying no really conveys and why it is so necessary, I hope that these reminders help you on your journey as they have in mine!

1. Saying no is a sign of self-respect.

It means that you respect yourself enough to put yourself first and listen to your inner voice despite experiencing any difficult feelings.

2. Saying no is not mean and does not mean rejection.

There are so many kind ways that you can say no which are sensitive to others but are not justifications. You do not need to justify your no’s or explain yourself, you can still be respectful and own your no’s boldly. We rarely (if ever) feel the need to justify saying yes because we view ‘yes’ as positive. However, that is not always the case, and there are many times I have said yes to things, that I knew I shouldn’t have or didn’t want to. It’s important to try and remove the negative stigma attached to no’s and that way you will feel less need to justify it.

3. Saying no is a form of self-care and I think it's one of the most important forms.

It might be that a friend wants to hang out, but you are exhausted, or you’ve got lots of messages to reply to, but you feel drained and need space from your phone. It could be that someone has asked to borrow money this month, but you need it for your bills. Some of the no’s might not even need to be vocal but are instead expressed through an action or inaction. These no’s are important because they avoid burnout or give you time to redirect your focus. These no’s provide you with space to pause and decide what you actually want to do.

Saying no is a form of self-care and I think it's one of the most important forms

4. Saying no is establishing healthy boundaries for yourself and those around you.

Have a think about what your boundaries are and what you’d like them to be. It could be something as simple as ‘no, I will not spend any money on Ubers this week’ or ‘no, I don’t want to drink this weekend even though my friends want me to.’ These no’s set limits and let others know how important those boundaries are to us.

5. Saying no is authentic.

How many times have you agreed to do something you don’t want to do because you are afraid of hurting someone else’s feelings and then instantly regret it? Or begrudgingly followed through with your decision because you said yes when the real answer was no? I have, SO many times, which also led me to being self-critical, ruminating and beating myself up because I wish I had just said no. Your process may be a little different, but this is how mine presents itself most of the time:

People pleasing

= =

self- critical/regret feeling temporary satisfaction

= =


We might think we are doing the best for other people, saying yes to them when we actually mean no but we aren’t. Imagine authentically saying yes to hanging out with someone vs begrudgingly saying yes. Our energy and attitude are going to be different and others can pick up on this genuineness. Being authentic in our no’s is vital to feeling empowered and positive in our choices.

So, this week I challenge you to practice your no’s where appropriate, be bold and own them and notice the difference it brings and how it feels to prioritise your needs!

Written by Alice

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