How to Learn to Say No

Being able to say no is an essential life skill that you should try and master for a better quality of life. For many people, saying no feels rude or selfish, but it needn’t be at all. In some circumstances, you should feel you have every right to say no, for example when someone asks you to do something that you feel is wrong. In other circumstances, you need to be able to say no to ensure you don’t take on too much and sacrifice your own best interests. And at times, you need to be able to say no to yourself, too.

Saying no to something you feel could be wrong

There are times when you might be asked to do something you’re not happy with, or that goes against your principles. Or you might simply feel suspicious about someone’s motives. The best rule to follow is if you feel uncomfortable, say no. The last thing you want is to become involved with something unsavoury or illegal because you didn’t feel you could refuse. You may have heard of people being convicted of conspiracy to commit crimes, but it is essential to understand and ask yourself what is conspiracy, and how could something seriously affect you? Your instincts could well have a foundation, and you should learn to trust them, so if something feels wrong then politely but firmly say no.

Saying no as an act of self-care

Many people feel obliged to agree to things that they don’t want to do, or don’t really have the time for, out of a sense of obligation or simply not wishing to offend. However, if you always say yes to people, you will soon find you are overwhelmed with tasks, running yourself ragged, and not spending enough time doing things for yourself. This can lead to excess stress, neglect of your own well-being, and a feeling that despite your busyness you aren’t accomplishing very much. Don’t feel that you are letting anyone down by saying no, or that you are obliged to agree to be involved in activities that you’d rather not be. You have every right to refuse a request, just do so politely and if you want to, explain why and say you’d be happy to help out another time. If anyone does take this badly, that’s their problem rather than yours, so stick to your guns and think about what’s best for you and your wellbeing.

Be disciplined

Finally, you need to learn to say no to yourself sometimes too! When you’re on a diet but get tempted by a slice of cake, or if you have important deadlines like your tax self-assessment to complete but feel more like carrying on watching your new TV box set, that’s the time when you’ll be glad you can say no to yourself as well as others. Being disciplined and practicing willpower in your own life is also essential as you cannot blame others if you find yourself short of time or in a situation where you haven’t given yourself enough time to complete a task.

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