How I learned to say “no” and not feel guilty

by on June 24th, 2010 at 7:00 am

A couple months ago, I started wondering why saying “yes” felt so right and saying “no” left me feeling so guilty. After reading a particularly poignant article, I realized I had a disease. Yes, that’s right; I had a “disease to please”. I would continually strive to do more and more for people, even when their interests got in the way of mine. Although this was always my choice, I would walk away feeling disappointed and irritable.

This year I decided to stop saying yes and learned that there is another alternative to just a plain “no” (which always made me feel horrible), and that was to say no with respect. This meant I was going to have to learn to set boundaries, a task that was so foreign to me and an obstacle I had yet to overcome. In good faith and ready to make a change for my own sanity (and to manage my stress levels), I decided to try it out.

Have Courage

Individuals by nature do not want to feel rejected, and saying “no” for some is a form of rejection. Saying no to the people you work with or the people you love can be very hard, but truthfully, saying yes and not meaning it will only make you resentful and cause strife between you and the person. Learn that saying no isn’t that uncommon; in fact, it is a sign that you are a person with boundaries, and though you don’t mind to help out sometimes, your goals are just as important as everyone else’s.

Know Thyself

You need to know what tasks may make you feel resentful, like taking on an extra workload, doing the dishes when it’s not you turn, or going on vacation and your partner planning an activity you aren’t comfortable with. Tell your co-worker that you aren’t comfortable with the amount of work you are taking on and you feel there should be a compromise, or tell your partner you need a compromise as well when vacation is involved.

The truth is, it is not anyone else’s job to know your boundaries, it’s yours! Don’t be afraid to say “I’m not comfortable” in any situation. Chances are, that person has been in your shoes once before and is willing to compromise – plus, this is a very respectful way of saying no.

Make Your Own Choices!

It feels great to do things for people; however, only do the things you let yourself be responsible for. The easiest way to control this process is to only set out to do what you want to do out of love or compassion. If you choose to do something out of love or compassion, chances are, your boundaries will never be invaded.

Let go of unwanted guilt and learn that you don’t have to make excuses for your decision. Let the other person know that you identify with them, but unfortunately, you can’t help them with their issue. In the long run, quelling your people-pleasing ways will improve your relationship with others and yourself, ten fold!

5 Responses to “How I learned to say “no” and not feel guilty”

  1. Matt Morrison

    Jun 25th, 2010

    I think it’s important to say “No”. You only have one life and you should do what you want to do. There should not be any guilt if you don’t want to help someone out. It’s not your job to do it.

  2. Elyse

    Jun 26th, 2010

    The “disease to please” can be really energy depleting (from personal experience). Now I do things with real meaning and intention that come from my heart.
    It’s a great lesson. guilt weakens the energy of the spleen (acc to chinese medicine).
    This is a great reminder, thanks!

  3. Brooke

    Jun 28th, 2010

    It took me a little while Matt, but finally to am able to say ‘No” and yes it is so important!

    Yes, the “disease to please” is very energy depleting- what a great way to put it Elyse!

    Thanks for the comments!

  4. Sandy

    Mar 10th, 2012

    Yes ,it’s necessary to say “no” to what we do not want to do ,thanks for your areticle .

  5. Sandy

    Mar 10th, 2012

    A wonderful article ! I gained a lot from you ,thanks .

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