Be Selfish: The Importance Of Standing Up For Yourself And Learning To Say 'No'

by Lauren Martin

No matter how narcissistic you pride yourself on being, we’ve all bowed to the pressure of people pleasing at least once in our lives. We’ve all done something we didn’t want to do for someone we didn’t want to disappoint. We’ve all given into favors, requests and subtle demands for fear of disappointment and anger.

We’ve all worried about that person’s opinion of us changing, or worse, hurting that person's feelings. At one time or another, we’ve all given up our own happiness for the sake of someone else’s. It’s admirable and selfless to do things for others; however, there’s a fine line between occasional favors and servitude.

There’s nothing wrong with being generous, in sharing your time and your happiness with others. However, there is a problem when you find yourself giving more happiness to others than you keep for yourself. There comes a time in your life when you must learn to be selfish.

For too long, you’ve been giving in to the ideas and hopes of others, following paths and pacifying wishes other people had for you. You’ve spent Saturday nights out when you really just wanted to stay in. You went to a school you knew was too big for you because it’s where your parents wanted you to go. You bought tickets to a movie you didn’t want to see. You stayed late to help out a coworker when you wanted to leave early.

When is it enough? Haven’t you reached the point at which the pain of refusing your own desires outweighs the pain of disappointment? Haven’t you grown tired of spending all your time pacifying the wishes of others and refusing your own? When will you realize that saying “no” is the first adult act towards taking control of your life?

Because if our lives are defined by the choices we make and if you are letting other people dictate those choices, then you’re not really living your own life. A life dictated by favors and worry of saying no is willingly giving away your freedom.

Life is too short to be going to bad movies and taking the wrong job. It’s too precious to be going out when you want to stay home. It’s too much of your own to let it be dictated by someone else. Saying no isn’t rude or stubborn, it’s the sign of a strong person.

It’s the mark of someone who has stopped caring so much about what other people think and has learned to stand up for him or herself. It’s the first step to living contentedly and harmoniously with yourself and without the judgment of others. Learning to say no is really the best thing you can do for yourself.

It Will Show You Your Real Friends

If you can’t be real with the person you are standing up to then that person isn’t worth your time. Saying no shouldn’t be the end of a friendship, but a refreshing honesty between two people.

Good friends don’t get offended by your refusal, but appreciate you for standing up for yourself. By learning to say no to people, you are giving yourself the chance to see who is supposed to be in your life, who respects you and who is just using you.

It Will Give You Respect

Many of us don’t say no for fear of scorn and loathing, but many times there’s a respect that comes along with hearing a person’s refusal. While people may be disappointed, it most always is layered underneath a subconscious, or conscious, understanding and admiration.

You are a person who doesn’t cave to peer pressure or sacrifice your own happiness for the opinions of others, and that’s a quality many people have yet to acquire.

It Will Give You Way More Free Time

Imagine how much time you would have if you said no every time someone asked you to do something. Of course, I’m not talking about when your boss or coworker asks for a favor or a friend really needs help moving, but what if three out of those five times you really didn’t want to do something, you just didn’t.

You can feel the weight lifting off your shoulders just thinking about that two-letter word. It’s such a simple and easy word, but with it brings so many opportunities.

It Will Give You A New Perspective

If you’ve spent your life saying yes to everyone, saying no will have a sudden and startling effect on your view of life. You will see the world differently once you’ve experienced life as someone who has command of their own happiness.

You will see people more clearly, understand what favors are worth saying yes to and who will accept your refusals. You will learn to appreciate your time more and as that appreciation grows, you will become more independent and less susceptible to the opinions of others.

It Will Bring You Peace

Saying no is about much more than a refusal to please, but a self-assurance that can only come from learning to let go. Because saying yes is all about hanging on to others, about riding behind them as they drag you through their adventures and problems. It’s a weight that bears down on you, a chain that pinches at your wrists and legs.

But once you drop the weight, once you stop holding everyone’s judgment and demands so tightly, you can only feel that much lighter. Learning to say no is about reclaiming your freedom