Hi my friends,
I’m really excited to talk about this topic today! The recovering people pleaser that lives in me knows how deeply hard it is to say “no”, but how liberating it feels when you finally allow yourself to do so.
For so many, saying “no” is nearly impossible. It’s ingrained in (most of) us, from the earliest of ages, to be appeasing, amenable, nice, polite, perpetually open and available, and always willing to go the extra mile. While in theory these qualities are positive in nature, it’s the lack of boundaries and feeling like you even have an option to decline that leads us to feel stifled, resentful, trapped, and utterly exhausted.
For almost my whole life, I’ve struggled to know how to say no to the things and circumstances that don’t feel aligned or frankly, that I’m not too interested in. I never wanted to hurt anyone’s feelings, I didn’t want to be considered rude or stuck up, and deep down, I held the fear that the more I said no, the less opportunities I would see.
The thing about perpetually saying yes is that eventually you get sick of it. You start resenting the people you begrudgingly say yes to, you feel like you have no time for yourself, your needs or your care, and your sense of clarity and boundaries gets so muddled it’s hard to really know where you stand in it all.
The truth is this: it’s okay to say no, and you’re completely allowed to say no without explanation. I know this second part, that truth, may be a tough pill to swallow. Sometimes this is really hard for me, too, but I stand by it.
You really don’t have to ever give explanation or reason for the decisions you make that honor yourself, your safety, your well-being, and your highest ideals for life. Making decisions from this confident, steadfast place, is one of the highest acts of self-care.
While all of this is true, often times it’s nice to have some gentle “no” responses in your back pocket, so you can feel well-equipped to decline with grace and ease. Below are five common responses I use in common circumstances that I hope will serve you in your quest to saying “no”!
When saying no to a friend or social circumstance: “Thank you so much for the invitation, I’m really grateful you thought of me in this occasion. I’m unable to make it, but I’d love to be thought of in the future.
When saying “no” in a business setting: “Unfortunately my schedule does not allot for me to take on new responsibilities at the moment. When I have a freer timeline, I will reach back out to reconnect”
When saying “no” because you’re unclear how you really feel: “I need more time and space to think about this, I will get back to you when I have more clarity”
When saying “no” because you feel overwhelmed and over scheduled: “I am completely overcommitted at this time, and I’m unable to say yes. When things settle down, I hope we can revisit your request”
When saying “no” because you need to say “yes” to yourself: “I’m focusing on my own mental health and wellness at this time and have to decline. Thank you so much for your understanding”
*Please remember that these suggestions are based in the assumption that you are saying “no” to generally safe and familiar circumstances. If you feel that you are in danger or in an unsafe situation, please say “no” without reason, disconnect completely, and seek assistance from a professional, when needed.