Saying 'no' can be difficult, especially if you're someone who likes to please other people.
But it's important to set boundaries and prioritize your own needs.
In this guide, you'll learn how to say “no” without feeling guilty and how to stand by it confidently.
Saying "no" equals self-care
Let's talk about what saying "no" really means. It means you're saying "yes" to yourself.
Now no one wants you to be selfish and say no when it's really in your power to help.
But when you're saying "yes," it'll take away from a task you need to accomplish for your mental, emotional, and physical well-being. It's not in your power to help.
When you have a clear understanding of what you are and aren't willing to do, it’s easier to make decisions that prioritize your needs instead of putting those of others first.
Give yourself permission to say "no" without feeling guilty or helpless; always remember that you are the one in control over your own time and resources, and you deserve to take care of yourself.
Being able to decline requests assertively is important for keeping a balance between being generous and preserving your own energy.
Knowing how to say "no" and set boundaries is integral to any self-care practice. So let's get ways to do it.
Identify your limits and set clear boundaries
To set clear boundaries, you first have to self-reflect ad decide your limits. Once you decide, you can begin to set boundaries for yourself.
Limits are things that can become too much for you to handle. It starts by choosing wisely what activities you participate in.
You need to be able to identify your limits and communicate them clearly before you can expect anyone else to respect or abide by them.
Make sure the limits you set for yourself are realistic and attainable; it will help make the task of saying “no” easier.
Once you know your limits, you can set your boundaries.
Identifying and setting boundaries makes it easier for you to prioritize yourself so that you can say “no” kindly and confidently.
Examples of Boundaries
Not working off the clock
Not working overtime (unless you want to)
Not loaning money you don't really have
Not buying an item you don't really need
Not spending your time the way you need to
The list can go on and on. But you get the idea.
Knowing how to say "No" and setting boundaries can be challenging.
We often find ourselves juggling many responsibilities and obligations, making it hard to find time for the important things in life.
Remember, you're important too.
Communicate your Boundaries
Make sure your needs are met by communicating openly with others and expressing yourself honestly.
Learning to say no and set limits can help prevent resentment from brewing and relationships from deteriorating.
Being able to communicate your wants and needs effectively is an important life skill, and it will help you protect your personal space while maintaining healthy relationships.
It won't feel great at first, but with practice, you'll get used to it. Think about what's at stake.
This will also prevent you from feeling taken advantage of, resentful and alone.
So be clear and confident when you say no, use firm language, don't feel guilty about setting limits and make sure that the other person understands your decision.
Things that helped me
Having a planner - You can easily say, "because I did not pencil that in, it will have to wait"
Having a schedule- You can say, "oh, sorry, that's not on my schedule today"
Having a budget- You can say, "I wish I could, but it's not in my budget to loan you that right now"
Setting healthy boundaries means saying "No" when we need to in order to honor our truth and create more meaningful relationships.
It's essential to be able to express your needs, wants, and limits in order to feel close and connected to others.
The more you practice, the more your family and friends will think before they ask. It'll also teach them only to ask if they truly need it, not just because they think you're a doormat.
Saying “no” without over-explaining or apologizing
I'll admit I still need to work on this one.
It can be hard to say "no" without feeling guilty or obligated to explain yourself.
But instead of giving a long justification for your refusal, simply state your position and stand by it.
You don’t need to offer any additional explanations or excuses. Simply say, “no, I cannot commit to that right now,” and leave it at that; there’s no need to apologize or provide further context.
This takes practice. When you say your morning affirmations or whenever you can, practice saying no without a long explanation in the mirror.
Remember to be confident and give eye contact.
Keep in mind your overall goal, good mental health, healthier decision-making skills, and stronger meaningful relationships with others.
What if your boundaries are violated
When someone oversteps your boundaries, don’t be confrontational.
Instead of pointing the finger and assigning blame, remain calm and use “I” statements when expressing your feelings.
“I felt hurt/disrespected when that happened"
"I don't appreciate when you violated the boundary we agreed on”
“I feel uncomfortable when that happens, and I’d appreciate it if you respected my wishes."
Remember, it takes time for people to adjust to the new you. Continue to guide them and redirect their behavior towards you.
This is the only way they will begin to respect the boundaries you've set.
The time it takes to guide and redirect may vary depending on the length of the relationship you have with the person. Family and long-time friends tend to take longer to adjust.
However, if you have the same problem with the same people for 6 months to a year, it may be time to deal with them in small doses.
Limit your association, and yes, it's ok to do this.
Major Take Away
Learning how to set boundaries and say "No" is an important part of self-care, even if it feels uncomfortable at first.
It's important to recognize that your well-being matters just as much, and sometimes even more, than the needs of others.
Saying no to a request isn't selfish or inconsiderate - it's taking care of you, both physically and emotionally.