Why can?t I say no?

How do you feel about saying no? Do you still say yes to going out when you would rather be at home? or do you say yes to lending someone money when you don’t have it to give?

You might not even know why you find it hard to say no, yet you find you can’t help it. It’s almost instinctive

Where does this behaviour come from?

Think about the relationship you had with your family growing, did your parents expect you to do certain things for them whenever they asked? Or even your friends at school, were you expected to be a good friend by helping them with their needs before your own? Was that what your friendship was based on? Were you allowed to say no?

These relationships lay the foundations for how we interact with others. If this is what we learnt growing up, this was the way we should act. This behaviour gets repeated as we grow up until it becomes automatic, almost instinctive and ever-present in all our relationships.


With these foundations we learn that others will only like us if we are at their beck and call, we think that saying no is bad and therefore we feel safe within these relationships. Saying yes doesn’t bring about hostility only thanks, whereas saying no brings friction and tension. Something that many try to distance themselves from.


Essentially it has become a part of your identity, you always say yes and others expect you to. Why do you find it so hard to say no to someone?

You might tell yourself it’s rude or it’s what you have always done, it makes you happy to do things for others.

It is nice to help people out sometimes but do you always want to? Do you occasionally feel powerless or that you have a duty to do what others ask of you while your needs get forgotten about

.Why don’t others help, why is it always your responsibility?

The detriment of saying yes all the time.

By saying yes you don’t feel tense with others but you instead take on that burden yourself. You might not make your friend upset but where does that feeling of tension, anxiety and anger go? It stays in you building up inside until it becomes too much, leading to depression or a fit of uncontrollable rage.


The benefits of saying no

The thought of saying no can fill you with anxiety or guilt yet the benefit of being able to say no will help you to:

  • Make sure your needs are met as well as others
  • Release stress
  • Have more control over your life
  • Be happier in general.

Realising your needs is just as important as everyone else’s.

How to start saying no

Even saying no at all might seem difficult and unfair as your relationship with others is based on you always saying yes to them.

Keep in mind that sometimes you may want to help. It’s nice to say yes if someone really needs your assistance and you have the time to help, but start small and start talking to people. Be polite and tell your friends, family and work colleagues that you don’t have time to help them this time but when things calm down for you maybe you can sometime soon.

Saying no doesn’t mean no forever, just when you have time, or want to.

If you don’t want to do it at all then tell them how you feel about it. It’s ok to not do things for others whenever they want you to.

You don’t always have to pander to others. Your needs are just as important as theirs.

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