It’s saying “no.”

Rachel Hardy
Aug 8 · 4 min read

“Half of the troubles of this life can be traced to saying yes too quickly and not saying no soon enough.” -Josh Billings

A friend of mine came to me the other day, lamenting the fact that she had made plans with a friend of hers despite the fact that she didn’t really want to go in the first place.

I looked up from the book I had been flipping through. “Next time,” I suggested. “Just tell her no.”

She blinked, looking at me as if I had just suggested she cut off her right arm.

“Or,” I continued, closing the book completely. “Just tell her you can’t go now.”

“But what do I say?” She asked, feeling as though she needed an excuse to back out of her plans.

“Just tell her, you’re unable to make it.”

Her eyes widened in surprise. She couldn’t believe it could be so easy. Still, I could see the reluctance to disappoint her friend.

I was surprised when she called me a few days later to let me know she had actually cancelled.

I told her I was proud of her.

This conversation got me wondering just why we struggle to say “no” to those we care the most about.

I understand that we don’t want to disappoint them. We want to make them happy and show them we care or love them. We want our relationships to flourish. And most of all, maybe, we want to be seen as “good.”

We want to be the good friend, the good mom, the good girlfriend.

But by always saying “yes” and refusing to say “no” when you really want to, you’re actually thwarting yourself and your relationships.

If you really want better relationships, you must learn to say “no.”

Because saying no is one of your biggest strengths.

Call it your superpower.

You and only you, have the ability to decide what you do and do not want to do.

Only you have the power to say no to something that makes you unhappy or sad and only you have the power to say “yes” to doing the things that you love.

When you say “no” to the things you don’t like you make more room in your life for the things that actually make you happy.

Now, you have more time to read, ski, write, play with your dog, or whatever else you do in your free time.

When you say “yes” to people and things you don’t want to do, you effectively have less time to do all those things. You have less time to sleep and exercise and take care of yourself too.

When trying to make a decision whether you should say yes or no, ask yourself “will saying yes make my life better?”

If the answer is no, well you have your answer.

But what about my friends? What about my sister and my mom? Shouldn’t I want to help them out?

Well, yes. And no.

Of course, we want to help out our moms and our sisters and our closest friends. And as for those people in your life that don’t mean much to you, your fellow PTA mom or your co-worker or your needy boss, do you really care about those relationships enough to want to give away pieces of yourself?

Probably not.

But even if you really care about someone and you really value that relationship you don’t have to say “yes” every time they ask you for something.

There’s absolutely no reason for you to feel obligated to do so. Truthfully, it’s no good for you or your relationships.

“One key to successful relationships is learning to say no without guilt, so that you can say yes without resentment.” Bill Crawford

Because when you say “yes”, even when you want to say “no”, you only end up resenting the person who makes these demands on you.

In reality, only you are to blame. You really should be angry with yourself, but you’re not.

You blame your friend for your lack of free time or for the lack of sleep you got last night. You blame your stress and unhappiness on others, but in reality your unhappiness is a direct result of your inability to say “no.”

So maybe you stop talking to your friend or answering their phone calls, because you’re terrified they will ask you to take their kid to soccer practice again. Maybe every time you talk to your sister you spend the whole conversation looking for ways to remind her how needy she is and make spiteful comments.

Does saying “yes” to everything really build your relationships?

Of course, not.

Because if these people really loved you they would understand why you say “no” sometimes.

So learn to say “no “ and learn how to do it early.

Saying “no” will make you happier. Saying “no” means that you live your life the way that you want to, not the way that someone else wants you to live it.

Saying “no” makes you strong. It builds your confidence.

When you’re able to say “no,” it means you are self aware enough to know what you do and don’t want in life.

Saying “no” helps you to live a healthy life.

It proves to the rest of the world and to yourself that you love and value yourself.

Saying “no” builds your relationships. When you’re comfortable enough to say “no,” you know that your relationships are built on mutual love, respect, and trust.

So the next time someone asks you to do something and you want to say “no,” do it.

Don’t say “yes” because you feel obligated.

Say “yes” because you want to. Say “yes” because it makes you happy and brings value to your life.

Start exerting your superpower and you’ll become the hero of your own story.

Rachel Hardy

Written by

Former psychology major hoping to change the world and inspire others. Writes about relationships, wellness, dogs, and surviving life as a woman.

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