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Written by Joy Francisco, Ph.D.

Saying “no” can be difficult for many of us. Why difficult? Because it is often associated with being selfish or rude. To the contrary, saying “no” actually means you know your value and respect yourself enough to stand up for your beliefs.

We often feel immense pressure to do things we do not want to do. As often, we place this pressure on ourselves. We think about what we should do, what we should want to do, or the expectations others might have of us. These thoughts can overwhelm us, debilitate us, and leave us feeling conflicted, restricted, or full of angst. We forget it is okay to say “no.”

The key is learning to balance kindness and courteousness without sacrificing our own sense of self-worth. Life flows, moves, and progresses whether we say no or not. We can make the choice to go through it hurriedly or go through it mindfully.

People are always going to have requests. Sometimes you will be able to help; sometimes you will not. You are still a good person regardless. If you put everyone else’s needs ahead of your own, you will become mentally and physically exhausted. Set boundaries to validate your own feelings and practice acceptance that you cannot control the opinions of others.

Recognize that it is okay to say no even if you have already said yes, if you realize you were not being true to yourself. It is far better to make the right decision late than follow through with the wrong one because you think you should.

It is your life. Make choices that are going to be best for you and your well-being. If that means saying no, then say it with conviction. Because by saying “no” to circumstances you do not want in your life, the more you are saying “yes” to yourself and the things that matter — and that is a beautiful thing.

You are your own biggest advocate. You are the only one who can really identify your priorities in life, as you are the person who is going to be most affected by the decisions you make. It is very important to our wellness to say it, mean it, and practice it.

It is okay to say no. Your world will not fall apart because of it.


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