"You should hang out with us this weekend." "Let's go out tonight." "Come on, you have to."
These are just a few of the most popular phrases that people love using. Even if you say that you're busy, no excuse seems to be enough.
You have to say no.
They may beg, even plead, but you have to stand your ground.
Saying no doesn't make you a bad person. Putting your wellbeing first is good for you.
Let's talk about what it means to put others before yourself and why saying no is difficult.
Self-Care vs. Selfishness
We must first distinguish between self-care and selfishness. These are two very different ideas that are often mistaken for one another.
Simply put, selfishness involves putting others' needs over the wants of yourself, while self-care involves putting your needs over others' wants.
It's easy to see how these two ideas can get mixed up. Sometimes people see your needs as unnecessary, causing them to believe that everything you're doing is going against everyone else.
For example, you may need to get a good night of sleep before work tomorrow. Let's say that your friends want to go out until midnight, and you need to get up at five in the morning. To everyone else, five hours may seem like enough sleep, but you've been feeling sleep deprived and need at least eight hours of sleep if you're going to feel your best tomorrow.
Your friends may beg and see your unwillingness to go out as rejection or selfishness. But, because you've recognized the importance of this sleep, you know that this isn't selfishness at all. It's self-care.
Yes, you could go out and survive the next day on five hours of sleep. But, you won't be yourself, and you'll likely become ill from sleep deprivation.
There are ways to practice self-care like this every day.
Why You Need to Start Saying No
"No" is a powerful word. People don't hear it from friends and family often, so it can cause people to be taken aback by the remark.
However, their reaction shouldn't deter you from saying no when you feel that it's the best choice for you.
Saying no isn't evil. It's merely a declaration that you don't want to do whatever the other individual is suggesting.
You see, the individual that you're saying no to is likely seeing your response as a rejection. This instantly pushes them to make remarks like, "you're being selfish," or, "oh, come on."
They don't take your "no" seriously because it's not the answer that they want.
But what happens if you don't say no? What happens if you give in to peer pressure and don't put yourself first?
1. You'll Get Burnt Out
If you don't stop and take a rest, you're going to burn yourself out. Your body needs and deserves regular rest and relaxation. By denying your body basic care, you're going to lead yourself into burnout.
"Burn out" means different things for different people. People usually associate the term with the workplace, but you can be emotionally or socially burnt out, too.
If you're emotionally burnt out, you may find that you have a temper. You're likely going to snap on people and not be able to control your emotions. Whether it leads to screaming, crying, or isolation, emotional burnout is dangerous for relationships and may cause deeper issues with those of you that struggle with anxiety and/or depression.
If you're socially burnt out, you may find yourself tired from the same old routine. Whether you're going out with friends or staying home, it's become so normal that you don't know any different.
If you are socially burnt out, you might struggle with being alone or knowing how to be with yourself. You may have trouble listening to your body without others' input.
Social burnout is a disconnect with your personal self and can be harmful to your overall wellbeing. It's important to take time to get to know yourself and spend time with yourself alone.
2. You'll Feel Resentful
If you don't start saying no when you don't want to do something, you'll grow to resent those individuals that you're putting before yourself. You may begin to think, "I take care of everyone, but no one takes care of me."
You should be saying, "why do I take care of others but not myself?"
It's important to put yourself first sometimes. Your needs are valid and deserve to be met.
Just because someone else wants to do something doesn't make you required to join. No length of friendship and no strength of blood should come between you and your personal health.
Placing healthy boundaries in your relationships and learning how to listen to your body will help control and strengthen relationships with other individuals. If you don't take the time to do these things, you will turn those relationships sour.
3. You'll Lose Respect
If you keep on saying yes, people will always expect a "yes." This is especially if you say yes to the most ridiculous requests.
There's nothing wrong with helping friends and going out of your way for others once in a while. But, this can't be an everyday occurrence. In fact, it should be a rare one that you save for special occasions when someone really needs you.
However, there is a fine line.
If you're feeling tired, drained, and unwell, you need to be able to say no. Here are some great situations to say no:
- When an activity makes you feel uncomfortable
- When you don't have time and don't want to cancel something else you planned to make time
- When the favor involved compromising alone time
- When the activity causes you to lose sleep
- When the person begs you to complete the favor rather than nicely asking
- When you have to go out of your way to complete the favor
- When your health (whether social, emotional, mental, physical or otherwise) becomes compromised
Finally, the best time to say no is whenever you want to.
You don't need a reason other than that you don't want to do whatever they're asking you to do. If the other individual doesn't respect your decision, you have the right to remove yourself from the conversation.
Saying no isn't mean. It is your right to take care of your mental health.
How to Say No Like You Mean It (Because You Do)
We can talk about the benefits of saying no all day, but that doesn't mean anything if you don't know how to say no. It's just one syllable, but many of us have difficulty speaking it out loud, especially towards someone we care about.
You need to say no like you mean it because you do mean it. Let's talk about how.
1. Think Before You Answer
Sometimes, all you need is a little bit of time to confirm and solidify your answer. Saying no may be a big step for you, and your brain may need more time to process that this is your answer.
Solidifying your answer may also help you be more confident when sharing your answer with the person who's asking. Whether you want to share why you've come to this conclusion or not, you're sure that this is your answer based on all of the thinking that you took the time to do.
2. Add a Qualifier
Sometimes, people find it helpful to add a qualifier before or after saying no. For example, you may say, "no, maybe next time."
This is a great way to soften your answer while opening the other party to future possibilities.
We recommend that you only use these kinds of qualifiers when you mean them. If you like going out to dinner but want to skip tonight's night out, a qualifier is acceptable. If you aren't comfortable going out to dinner at all, you shouldn't use a qualifier.
3. Drop the "Sorry"
Many of us feel the need to add an "I'm sorry" whenever we say no. However, most of the time, we're not really sorry. We're just saying it so that we don't seem heartless.
The phrase "I'm sorry" is used far too much. We recommend checking yourself before you say sorry.
Are you really sorry for missing a night out so that you can sleep or do you just feel bad because you aren't doing what someone else wants?
Finally, Putting Yourself First
It's time to put up your people-pleasing and start saying no. Take the time to recognize what you like doing and what you'd rather skip.
And, don't be afraid to explain that you need time for yourself. It's healthy.
Many people feel that they need time for themselves but aren't sure where to start. We recommend taking a look at 70 Acts of Self-care that you can do right now.
Today is finally the day that you're going to start putting yourself first.