Written By: Stacy Stefaniak Luther, Psy.D., LPC
Saying no can be very difficult. Perhaps you’re a people pleaser, an over achiever, super motivated… The Huffington Post shares that saying yes to everything can lead to feeling stressed, overwhelmed, and burned out. Who has been there? Taking on too much is exhausting. Always saying yes is physically, mentally, and emotionally draining. It can be challenging to set limits, especially for those who want to please other people. Eventually, one has to say no. It’s unrealistic to believe we can say yes to everything and still remain somewhat healthy.
Setting boundaries, according to the Huffington Post, can actually help improve relationships in the long run. Pointedly and accurately, the Huffington Post shares that “the people who you want to surround yourself with are those who will respect your boundaries, even if initially they feel upset or disappointed.” This is so, so true. We have to eventually set boundaries for ourselves, for others, and for different situations and experiences. It can be very difficult and even, at times, emotionally painful to say no depending on the relationship and the request. Setting boundaries with those close to us can tug on heart strings and lead to unnecessary guilt. Saying no at work can leave us with a nagging sense of being viewed negatively by supervisors and colleagues. Yet there is a lot of power that can come from saying no and setting boundaries. When you don’t say no, it can lead to you feeling out of control, stressed, and even anxious. It begins to impact not only your relationship with others, but your relationship with yourself. When you respect yourself enough to set boundaries, your words and actions gain power. Credibility. And, arguably, you become more productive due to less stressors and pressure to manage it all.
Do you find it difficult to say no? Realsimple.com provides other phrases that can be used instead of the word no. Acknowledging the generosity of others, asking to re-prioritize, don’t single someone out, or highlight the need to lighten your schedule. These options allow you to set boundaries with reduced chance of hurting someone’s feelings while also allowing them to engage in some perspective taking. And if you can’t say no? It’s time to start thinking about why it is so difficult for you to set boundaries. A mental health professional may be able to help you understand why and also help you build up confidence in yourself while balancing self-care and self-compassion.
Forbes.com. 10 Ways to Set Healthy Boundaries at Work. Retrieved from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/carolinecastrillon/2019/07/18/10-ways-to-set-healthy-boundaries-at-work/#2e9731a57497
Huffington Post. The Power of Saying No. (2016). Retrieved from: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/the-power-of-saying-no_b_10285096
Realsimple.com. (2014) 10 Guilt Free Strategies for Saying No. Retrieved from: https://www.realsimple.com/work-life/10-guilt-free-strategies-for-saying-no