How To Stop Feeling Guilty When You Say No
Do you often find yourself taking on side projects at work that won't benefit your career whatsoever?
Do your personal relationships feel one-sided? Are you always the one putting in effort to appease friends, family and partners?
Are you constantly kicking yourself after you overbooked yet another weekend because you couldn't bring yourself to simply say “no”?
If you can relate to any of the above, it's likely you're a people-pleaser.
People-pleasing is toxic, and it's also a tough habit to break. Why do we do it? Because we desire for everyone in our lives to be happy, and some of us will do whatever is asked of us to keep it that way.
Some people-pleasers are addicted to being needed, and by saying “yes” to everything, it makes them feel like they are playing a part in the lives of others. People-pleasers tend to believe they will be more well-liked the more they say yes to others, but often times, they ultimately end up feeling like doormats.
One thing I know for certain is, if you allow others to treat you like shit, eventually you will start to treat yourself like shit, too. What many people-pleasers tend to forget is that constantly saying "yes" to others means constantly saying "no" to your own needs.
Not only does it put a great deal of unnecessary pressure on you, but it can also literally make you sick by stretching yourself too thin in order to accommodate others. You are depleting energy sources, and this unhealthy behavior will eventually leave you feeling exhausted, used and stressed out.
This combination of self-pity and anxiety will inevitably lead to a badly battered ego. This is where the power of "no" comes into play.
We must remember that we have the power to say "no," and that sometimes, the only solution for you to regain your self-respect is to learn to say it with no shame and with frequency.
Here are a few tips to help you be better at saying "no."
1. Remember you have the option to say no.
Do not jump the gun in accepting an invite or agreeing to do a favor. If someone asks something of you, take a minute to think about it.
Ask questions and get the details on this particular commitment. After you get all the information you need, ask yourself the following: Will this be too stressful for me? Do I have time for this? What would I be giving up? Am I being pressured into this?
2. Have boundaries and stick to them.
Is the person asking something of you being disrespectful in their approach? Is the favor inappropriate? Is there any benefit for you, and if not, is this a pattern constantly playing out with you and this person?
It is important to have some boundaries in all relationships, and you are accountable in making sure that you honor them. If a request falls beyond the line of your boundaries, this is something you should not say "yes" to.
3. Be flexible.
Feel free to set constraints on a particular commitment that you cannot complete or attend fully.
For example, if you can only attend a friend's bridal shower for an hour because you had already made plans far in advance, do not cancel those prior plans. Just let your friend know you can attend their event, but for only a certain amount of time.
Or, if for instance your sibling needs help moving, but you have an appointment that day that cannot be rescheduled, inform them of that and perhaps you can help them afterward.
4. Remember no one will blame you for saying no.
It takes time to get comfortable with saying no, and feeling guilty about it will make it much harder for yourself.
Always keep in mind that your time and energy is yours to manage. It is OK to put yourself first sometimes, and if you don't remember to every once in a while, you won't be the best co-worker, friend, family member or partner that you can be.
Saying “no” to favors or engagements does not make you a demanding jerk, and if anyone on the receiving end of your “no” gives you a hard time, it is likely that they are the demanding jerks, not the other way around.
This article was originally published on the author's personal blog.