Say No Without Guilt

As much as life is about the greys through the black and whites, it is also about being stuck in maybe’s between yes and nos. When we start living a life that validates others around us, we start doing things to please them. You start saying yes to requests at work; you agree to meet friends even though you don’t feel like and you unwillingly attend an event of your partner’s interest so they won’t feel bad. At first, you start doing it out of love, and because you don’t know yet, you can say no.

One day, you make a plan, but everyone responds negatively. You ask a colleague to take over your task, but they quip they are too busy. Sometimes they say, “Maybe, I can do it later,” but you don’t have the assertive assurance. Are they wrong? No. What they are probably doing right is their willingness to say no.

I haven’t learned to say no confidently, but today I want to share a few tips and tricks to tackle such situations.

How to Say No Without Feeling Guilty?

1. Ask Yourself What Stops You

Are you saying no out of fear or guilty about the consequences? Do you always say yes because it is the easier way forward? When you can identify the underlying causes, you can tackle them first and then. 

2. Protect Your Energy

Saying no at the right place and time is essential to protect your time and energy. If you cannot say no because you care about others so much, I am afraid you will only get tagged as a people pleaser. It can hamper you even further. 

3. Put Yourself First

You mainly wish to say no because you don’t want to do something/ are not interested in it. You know your reason but are not just willing to put yourself first and respect your initial decision. When you don’t respect yourself, it leaves little space for others to do so. Consider what pleases you and say no to situations that put you in a spot. Being stuck in an uncomfortable position will not get easier with time; you will condition yourself to like it and start enjoying it. 

4. Communicate Directly

NO’ is just two letters and one word, but it has many consequences. While saying no can be the main challenge, learn to communicate effectively if you don’t like something. If you do it once, you may not be asked to do it again. You wouldn’t know the exact reactions unless you were direct and communicated your negation. 

5. Stand up for Yourself

No one can defend your thoughts better. If the work requests are overwhelming and you feel overburdened, you must put it out there. Communicate with your team members as to why you are saying no. If you only do it to please your bosses, ask yourself if it matters in the long run. Then, if you still need to, you have your defense. 

6. Draw boundaries

Some people cannot draw boundaries around them, whether professionally or personally. This makes it easier for others around you to overstep and expect more from you. You need to decide who you are willing to do something for and how long, or else you will keep doing it as an obligation. Spend time alone and draw mental boundaries so you clearly distinguish things to agree on and disagree with. 

7. Don’t be Available Always

If you keep saying yes to everything that comes your way, you invite people to walk all over you. But how many people are always there for you, through thick and thin? As we grow through life, our social circles diminish, so taking a step back is okay. However, in current times, it is essential to be available for yourself rather than embroiling yourself with others. 

Are You Being Selfish? 

The problem with saying no at all times is that it may put you in a circle of selfishness. While thinking about yourself is essential, you should also be self-aware to recognize how it impacts those immediately around you. Choosing yourself is not selfish, but picking yourself, no matter what can be.

Women especially are brought up in a way to think about others, to have the bigger heart of a mother, a caring wife, and a loving grandmother. But how many of us genuinely ask them about their choices? How many unwilling Yes’s have got them there? Saying no is not restrictive to gender but the mere ability to choose their own. 

Ask yourself today- when was the last time you thought about yourself first? If you fall in the rare every day, congratulations. If it’s been months, try saying the first no today. Start small, feel the joy it brings, and then replicate. 

Saying No can be very powerful if you say Yes to all the wrong things. 

Writer by day, an overthinker by night. I let my thoughts flow through my writing. As a definite misfit, I let my words speak louder than my actions. Welcome to my journey of sailing through emotions and experiences, with words as my paddles.

Follow Riddhi Jadhav

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