How to Know When It’s Time to Say "No"

clarity happiness self-care Oct 04, 2021

Not everything that we want to do is good for us, and sometimes it’s hard to decide what to say yes or no to. Between the pressure of societal norms, family expectations or our own subconscious conditioning, we often say yes to things we have no interest in. Sometimes, we dishonor ourselves and say yes to everything that comes our way.

What many don’t realize is that saying no does not mean that you are rude, selfish or unkind. If saying no is challenging for you - you’re not alone! Humans are social beings who want to fit in, and we also want to avoid the discomfort of letting somebody down, or being seen as difficult or incompetent. 

If you continue to say yes to everyone and everything, you’ll soon find that you aren’t fully living for you. Yes to going out, listening, doing a favor, picking up that shift, taking on a responsibility… we say yes so much to the point that it becomes an automatic response. There comes a time when all the yes's we dish out leave us worn out. You have no time for yourself and the things that you love, and when giving begins to deplete your energy, you may realize how important it is to say no.

While saying no may seem selfish it is an act of self-love and it will give you time to focus on yourself. Remember: you cannot pour from an empty cup. No is a powerful word and it is a complete sentence that does not need to be defended. You are well within your rights to say NO! You need to say yes to living the life of your dreams.

“Live your life for you not for anyone else. Don’t let the fear of being judged, rejected or disliked stop you from being yourself” ~Sonya Parker


If you struggle with saying no here are some things to consider if your default setting has become yes...

Say NO to things that do not honor who you are.

TD Jakes says that if you know who you are, then you know who you are not. If you don't know who you are, somebody can ascribe any identity onto you and you will morph into whoever they expect you to be. Honoring yourself requires being honest with yourself, and includes saying no to things that do not bring you joy or you simply are not interested in doing. Don’t allow the need to be liked by people and have their approval be what you make your decisions based on. Suppressing your needs and self-sacrificing does not honor you in any way. Your loved ones deserve to have you show up for them because you truly care for them and you want to spend time with them. The version of you that reluctantly says yes and wishes to be elsewhere will only lead to resentment, dragging yourself along and forcing yourself to have fun leads to inauthentic connections in your life and you deserve better than that.


Say NO to things that do not bring you peace.

Peace should be a big factor when deciding on saying yes or no. You should say yes to things that will allow you to have peace of mind, yes to things that will rejuvenate your soul, and things that make you happy. Everything that you need to think about and have to convince yourself to do because you are aware that it will drain your energy you must say no. For your peace of mind and sanity you must simply learn to say no. Constantly saying yes leads to people expecting us to constantly go out of our way to show up for them, and they expect you to place their needs above yours. In the long run, this can cause a major strain on relationships and you begin to regret or resent having been there for your loved ones. As you say yes or no, remember that you are teaching people how to treat you, and you want people to treat you with kindness and respect because you stand up for yourself.


Understand that NO is a complete sentence.

Often, we feel bad and we feel guilty when we say no to our loved ones. We will begin with an apology; I am sorry but I am going to have to say no. We feel the need to soften the blow and it doesn't matter how softened the blow is but we will feel bad as soon as “no” leaves our mouths. We feel like saying no to our loved ones is such a letdown and we need to justify ourselves for having the audacity to say no. The truth of the matter is you are allowed to just say no. Have confidence in your no and surround yourself with people that are aware that saying no to them is saying yes to yourself.

Let me repeat: Saying no is practicing self-love. You do not always need to be available to everyone for everything; take time out and focus on yourself. Say yes to a day of relaxation and rejuvenation, say yes to spending time alone, say yes to missing out on dinner plans, and say yes to YOU. You deserve to say yes to yourself. Keep in mind that as you try to nurture relationships with other people you should never forget about the lifelong relationship you can never escape which is a relationship with yourself. Stop making up negative scenarios of what might happen if you say no and remember that other people's reactions have nothing to do with you.

Ultimately, mastering the ability to say no will give you the opportunity to build a more fulfilling and meaningful life on your own terms. It will allow you to filter your decisions through your values, and say yes to the things that truly matter to you. And when you can make decisions based on your values, you begin to live authentically. Remember that this is a practice, and whatever we practice we become.