Saying “No”. I have witnessed a surge in the past couple decades with people struggling to use this word, as if there is a severe allergy to the sound. It seems that there is always a reason or justification for why one cannot utter “No” to someone, even though they clearly know they should have. Although American ethos was built on the “Yes, I can” mentality, it is not a healthy approach to long-term happiness, especially in relationships. Saying “Yes” to everyone will take toll on your body, health, and mind.
Saying “No” to a request or demand holds a negative connotation for some—as if one is denying someone a critical need. Perhaps some respond reflexively to their inner critic: “Your mother raised you better”. Helping others requires that you have adequate resources yourself. Unfortunately, many of us neglect ourselves because in our estimation, somehow, someone else needs us more; therefore, we erroneously put aside our needs to care for others. In the end, neglecting ourselves is not respectable, it is not noble, and it is most definitely unwise.
In order to help others, you must be adequately charged; this requires spending time gaining the energy necessary for you. Then and only then can you serve others. If you do not take care of yourself, eventually you will run out of steam… it is simply inevitable because you are human. Self-sacrifice has its price.
Solution: learn to say “No”. Call it your Vitamin N. You might feel a twinge of guilt. That’s OK; the guilty feelings will eventually dissipate when you realize that choosing to care for yourself doesn’t make you selfish or unloving. Not everything someone needs from you trumps what you need to do for yourself. Understand that you cannot please everyone at all time. People will adapt if you say “No” once in a while; they will find another way to get help or realize that their perceived need was merely a want. Moderation is key, of course; make sure you prioritize time each week to include self-care, not just caring for others.
Screenwriter, filmmaker, communication and lifestyle expert Nena Tenacity reports that “Successful entrepreneurs are aware that their biggest downfalls are not saying ‘No’. Bypassing everyday urgencies and focusing on important issues starts with a simple skill and a small change by learning how to say ‘No’”. Helping others is honorable; however, help when you can and respectfully say “No” when you cannot. Do not neglect your needs; you deserve to be taken care of too.
My follow-up article, The 10 Situations to Say “No” to Improve Your Life, will focus on moments where in order to be successful mentally, physically and emotionally, you must practice saying “No”.
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