The Art of Saying NO




Why is it so hard to say no?

I used to ask myself this question every time I meant to say no, but babbled out “yes” instead. I felt trapped for years over the obsession to be agreeable to everyone at any situation. I constantly asked myself why it was important for me to please everyone to the point that I would feel resentful to people, and stressed in situations at work, and in my social life.

With the help of my therapist, I realized that the reason why I was afraid of saying “no” is because I have an excessive fear of rejection. I was horrified by the fact that every time I said “no”, I would disappoint someone and appear rude. I was obsessed with the thought of people thinking negatively of me, or out loud to peers. The thought of anyone looking down on me (which started when I was a very young girl) lead me to a very anxious life.

It took me a very long time to get the courage to say no to my friends, family, work colleagues, etc. However, my therapist encouraged me to practice saying “no” first before I was comfortable enough to say it to people. She invited me to imagine a scenario and then I practiced saying no to myself, as well as to her. I also practiced this with a friend.

Learning to say no has been one of the best things I have done for myself. It’s the ultimate self-care, especially when you’re under peer pressure, or work pressure.

Helpful Tips for Saying No

  • Be direct. I cannot stress this enough. It can be as simple as ,“no, I can’t” or “no, I don’t want to.” But also---

  • Be polite, such as “Thanks for considering me, I really appreciate it!”

  • Do not, I repeat, do not apologise. Also, don’t give reasons. You are not obligated to give any sort of reason why you’re saying no.

  • Don’t say things like, “I’ll think about it,” when you don’t want to do something. It’ll lengthen the situation and make you feel more anxious.

  • Don’t lie. Lying will lead to guilt… and the feeling of guilt is what you’re trying to avoid in the first place.

Above may seem a bit overwhelming, but remember that your self-worth does not depend on how much you do for other people. If your peers take offense to any moment you tell them ‘no thanks,” then it’s their problem, not yours. However, I found that people respected me more when I said “no” because was honest with them as well as myself. If you want that same feeling of empowerment, then try out these tips! Trust me, it’ll set you free.


About the Author

Nadine Caouette is a German-American who decided to venture out to the magical lands of Ireland. She’s a self-care junkie who loves plants so much so she taught herself how to draw botanicals.

Follow her work on Instagram @bloom.illustration


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