“No” is a word of just two syllables but for some of us uttering this tiniest word can be one of the most courageous things they ever have to do. Especially the ones who are born with an innate desire to please everyone, are empaths, or have anxiety/mental health issues. However, it also has the power to set you free from many outcomes of a situation that weigh you down. So, it may sound really simple but saying a “no” could be important for your mental health and for keeping your sanity intact.
It does come with a dose of guilt and burden but once you get to know how and when to say it, it can be the most liberating feeling and the most therapeutic experience for your mental health. Primarily, it saves you from exhaustion and burning yourselves out and it sets the expectations of others straight too.
Sometimes just on the edge of an event, your mental health screams for help, you have already committed to the plan but your brain just doesn’t help you. In such circumstances, taking a break, slowing down, or even stepping out is fine. I will take a step further and say that cancelling plans should be normalized.
I am not asking you to cancel out the plans you are already committed to or abandon the people when they need you but I am telling you that you have the power to prioritize your goals, your health, and your sanity by saying “no” to the things which don’t align with them.
For the longest time, I have struggled to say “no” to things that didn’t matter to me or things I didn’t want to do and when I look back today, I have spent pretty much a considerable portion of my life doing things that I could have easily turned down.
It starts with a simple circumstance of your inability to deny extra chapati being served to you with love at an invited dinner. You don’t want to make them feel that you didn’t enjoy the food so you eat that chapati even if you are full till neck and it reaches till the point when your inconsiderate friend burdens you with their personal work and you tiring yourselves finishing them, ignoring your own routine.
Saying “No” Doesn’t Make People Hate You
And then I met some people who were very sure of what they wanted and what they absolutely didn’t want. They had a basic answer to being a participant in a situation. It was either a “yes” or a “no”.
I was stunned to see people refusing to the things or places or situations they didn’t belong to or their hearts were not set on. What sort of power was that? I could see my heroes come to life on them. I realized that saying “no” doesn’t always make people hate you or abandon you. People say “no” to things they don’t like all the time. It’s legal, it’s valid and it is reasonable. The world doesn’t stop functioning if I say “no”.
On the other hand, an unwilling “yes” is far more harmful than a polite “no”. People hesitate in saying “no” because saying “yes” is easy and saying “no” puts them in a vulnerable position of being judged. It’s the way society has conditioned its people so they believe that saying “no” sounds very selfish and saying “yes” appears generous.
The truth is that when we say unwillingly “yes” we are creating a vicious cycle of people doing things or being somewhere or with someone without their heart.
After years of pleasant and unpleasant experiences and finding myself in places and situations I didn’t appreciate, I somehow found the audacity to say “no”. It doesn’t always last. I still give up on the sentiment of not breaking anyone’s heart by saying “no” very often but still, I have cut down on many emotions, stuff and experiences which I do not want in my life.
Over the years I have realised that other people who are the victims of modern lifestyle stress like us, try to understand where the response is coming from.
They appreciate with time the honesty and the reason for saying “no” rather than a half-hearted presence or gesture of us.
Diplomacy Is The Key
Diplomacy is your weapon while saving you from the after-effects of saying “no”. Your negative response should not sound rude. Sometimes it’s better to cushion your refusals with an affirmative response and ‘but’. For example, on being offered an extra chapati your response should be, ‘I would have loved to but your food is so delicious that I have stuffed myself with more than what I usually eat.”
On being burdened with extra work by a friend you can say, “I would have done it like always but I feel you should use this situation to work on your time management skills. I am sure with little effort you can improve it.”
It is also important to understand that when you are saying “yes” to the unlikeable situation, you are promoting the culture of people being dishonest about their true feelings. It will snowball and others too will repeat it.
Break the chain. Say a “no” nicely and set the line straight.
Always remember to be polite while saying a “no” and be generous while accepting it.