The importance of sometimes saying no

As much as we want to help others, make them happy, do them favours and be useful, sometimes we can over strain ourselves trying to please people, and as a result, make things more difficult for ourselves. It’s easy to say yes to something because we want to help, only to realise we won’t have the time or energy to do so with all of our own tasks. It can become a stressful struggle to balance things and nothing gets done to the standard it could have. It’s easy to keep saying yes to people’s requests, putting them before your own needs or wants, and to then find yourself in some less than ideal, stressful situations.

It’s fantastic to help others out in any shape or form unless it impacts you negatively. And sometimes you just can’t take on more things if it isn’t realistic for you at the time. These can be personal favours for friends, or other tasks you may be asked to take responsibility for. But sometimes it just won’t work out for you. You are not being selfish or mean by turning these things down and saying no, even to a friend. You are only being realistic about your time, considerate to yourself, and actually more helpful to the other person in the long run if you may not be able complete the task to a good level anyway. You know what else is okay? To say no because you don’t feel up to it, or just don’t want to.

If you’ve always said yes to someone, they can come to expect it. We all want to be liked and many people want to avoid conflict, so it can seem easier to keep saying yes, even to things you don’t want to do. But it can lead to our friends, family or colleagues always expecting us to say yes, and perhaps taking advantage of this kindness. This is probably not intentional, but it could be, especially if they try and make you feel guilty about it. Watch out for this. Assert your boundaries if you need to. All kinds of relationship are about mutual respect, trust and both giving and taking, rather than one over the other.

You’re not going to let anyone down or disappoint anyone by saying no. If someone says you have – well, they should have known that you might not be able to do it, and respect your decision. If they try and make you feel guilty about it, they are being very unfair. Remember this is their problem, not yours. All you’ve done is not be able to do something they asked. They can’t expect you to always be able to do what they want. In this case, they’re the ones being selfish by not understanding why you can’t help them this time.

Even if you try, you can’t always please everybody, which I’ve certainly learnt from experience. When you’re constantly trying to keep different people in your life happy, you can forget about your own happiness. It’s not your responsibility to make others happy or to help them, however close they are to you. If you can help them, that’s wonderful and you should, but only if you are realistically able to.


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