When we are interacting with other people, something that tends to be quite difficult for us is to assert ourselves and say no. We find it difficult to tell people that we do not want to do something or that we are not comfortable with something. Many times, we say yes even though we want to say no and hope the other person finds a way to read our minds. In these situations, we end up feeling tired, annoyed, and frustrated. If this happens very often, we also feel overwhelmed and depleted.
So why do we do this? Some of the reasons are given below:
- Culture: We have been taught that it is important to say yes to ‘keep the peace and ensure that the other person is happy. This makes it quite hard to say no because we blame ourselves when someone is displeased with our no.
- Trying to please everyone: Many of us want to keep everyone around us happy. And that is simply not possible. We fear displeasing someone and that makes us say yes to everything.
- Difficulty with boundaries: We sometimes take responsibility for everything and everyone including aspects that we have no control over. This makes it hard for us to say no because we think that it is our responsibility to say yes.
It is important to know when to say no. Saying no allows us to conserve our time and energy and use it on things that matter or are important for us. It saves us from a lot of stress, exhaustion, and burnout.
Before we embark on the task of saying no, it is important that we first acknowledge that it is a difficult task. This allows us a space of compassion and kindness towards ourselves.
How can we learn to say no?
- Start small: It’s always a good idea to start with something small. You can start by saying no to small requests or small favours. For eg: your sibling asks to borrow your book and you say no.
- Make choices: It’s pretty easy for us to ask the other person to choose for us. How about we make the choice instead?
“Do you want cake or ice cream?” “I prefer cake. Thank you.”
- You matter: Remind yourself that your voice matters. It matters to you and therefore people must hear it.
Saying no does not make you a bad person. It is not selfish to want something for yourself. We are all human and there are things we are all not okay with. It is okay to assert that.
There will always be people who will get angry with you or feel that you are rude because you said no. Do remember that the ones who care about you will respect your comfort and safety. They value you and therefore they will also honour your ‘no’. If you would like to know more about this, you can reach out to your counsellor at https://zfrmz.in/ufr7rZDXzwb4wc81BZPmSelect the option “Student Wellness” to connect with the counsellor.
By, Anika Joseph, School Counsellor