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Amira McLaughlin

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One of the most important boundaries you can set for yourself is learning to say no. Many of us find ourselves stressed out, over-committed, and involved in tasks that don’t interest us simply because we don’t want to hurt other people’s feelings or let them down. We put the comfort of other people above our own and agree to things we’d rather skip. Let’s take a look at this destructive habit and examine why learning to say no is an important life skill, along with some ways you can put an end to people-pleasing.

Why It Matters

Learning to say no matters because it puts you in charge. When you say no to opportunities, tasks, or actions that don’t interest you, you’re making proactive and purposeful choices. You’re no longer being led into giving up your time and energy to something that doesn’t resonate with you simply to avoid discomfort. Many of us feel uncomfortable in using our voices, claiming our time, and setting strong boundaries. When you say yes to things you don’t enjoy, you’re giving up part of yourself, and this can be damaging to your overall well-being.

Benefits of Saying No

There are so many benefits that come from learning to say no. For one, you’ll have more time and energy to pursue the things that truly make you happy. Why spend precious resources on things you don’t wholeheartedly enjoy? You’ll also get more out of life when you purposefully choose the things you engage in, rather than doing activities others want of you. You’ll gain confidence in yourself each time you say no to tasks that don’t interest you, and you’ll feel more in charge of your own actions. This is empowering and can lead to additional positive decisions that add to your self-worth. Finally, you’ll gain self-respect because you’ll know that you’re not being a doormat and that no one can talk you into doing something you don’t want to do. Also, others will respect your boundaries and won’t be inclined to push them through guilt or other methods of coercion.

How to Get Started

Learning to say no takes practice. The first step to doing it is to admit if it’s a problem for you. Take note of how often people ask you to do things and how readily you agree. Recognizing the issue can help you to overcome it. Next, you’ll need to take time to evaluate the situation each time someone asks you to engage in a task or activity. Determine if it’s something you’d like to do and in what ways it would compromise other aspects of your life. You can then move forward to make a decision. When saying no, it’s important to remember that you don’t owe anyone an explanation for your reasons. If you’re unsure of whether to say no, feel free to tell the person you’ll give them a decision later.

Taking the time to evaluate requests and say no puts you in charge. It allows you to make proactive decisions that are right for you, rather than giving in to what others desire. You’ll feel refreshed and renewed once you learn this skill, and people will learn to respect your boundaries.

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