The Power of ‘No’

I’m just gonna start off with saying this – I’m a people pleaser. I am overly sensitive to the comfort (and discomfort) of others. I try to avoid any situation that makes anyone else unhappy. When I am in a situation that feels awkward or tense, my instant reaction is to say or do anything that will relieve the tension. I am non-confrontational- sometimes to a fault.

I’m also the type of person who hates saying no to people. Anytime someone asks me to do anything – whether it’s working their shift or going to a movie – I feel like I need to have a solid reason to say no. Even when my reason for saying no is just that I don’t want to do it, I feel like I need to have some solid excuse for why I can’t do whatever it is they’re asking me to do. More than that, I feel like I need to apologize for saying no. I feel guilty for not immediately agreeing to whatever they’re asking.

One day I came across a post on Pinterest that said “You are allowed to say no without any explanation.” Boom. Mind blown. I was allowed to say no without having a reason for saying no? I don’t have to feel guilty because I don’t want to pick up a shift even though I already worked 5 days this week? I thought about that post for a while. Throughout that day, it kept coming back to my mind. Hmm.. I don’t need an explanation for saying no.

It sounds really great in theory, but even though that mind-blowing moment was a few months ago now, I am still working on the whole saying no without feeling the need to explain myself thing. After all, I’m still a people pleaser and I can’t change who I am just because I saw a Pinterest quote. I have been attempting to say no without giving the obligatory “I’m just really tired” or “Sorry I have homework.” I still feel rude when I just outright say “No.” However, even though I am sometimes still giving excuses, I am getting better at not feeling guilty for not being able to say yes to everything. It’s okay that I have to say no to going out or going to dinner. It’s okay that I don’t want to pay $10 to see a movie that I’m not really interested in. It’s okay that I am choosing my happiness over the happiness of others. 

A little while ago, I found myself giving advice to a friend who didn’t want to go somewhere that she felt obligated to go. I told her “You are allowed to say no and not give a reason why. You are allowed to say no and not apologize for it. You don’t have to feel bad for looking out for your own happiness.” As I was saying the words, I realized I didn’t fully believe them. I knew what I was saying was true, but I didn’t fully take that advice myself. Ever since then, I have really been thinking about and working on getting myself to the point where I can honestly say no and not feel bad. I’m getting closer. Now, when I truly need a night at home with Netflix and popcorn and a bottle of wine, I don’t feel guilty for declining to go out. Now, I might still say “Sorry I’m just really tired.” Baby steps, right? Eventually, I will get to the point where I can just say “No thanks, I’m good” and not worry about whether I came off as rude or bitchy. Eventually, I will be able to fully appreciate the power of the word ‘no’ by itself.


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