Saying No Is a Type of Self-Care, According to Psychologists

Do you have a problem saying no to others? Maybe you didn’t realize that this was an issue, but it’s essential to identify. Self-care is an integral part of keeping yourself mentally and physically healthy, yet few dare to stand up for themselves when asked to do something that puts them out.

Assume you work a forty-hour week job, have three children and a spouse, and have the kids in extracurricular activities. You’re always on the road, and moments to yourself are precious and few. Now, your mother calls and asks if you can take her to the doctor at 11 am tomorrow, which means you must call off work.

You want to help your mom, as she is your parent, but it will cause significant issues. See, your mom doesn’t know that you won’t get paid if you call off again, as you’ve used all your time. Additionally, you will receive a write-up for an unexcused absence without a doctor’s excuse.

Even though it’s costing you dearly, you say you will take her. Why didn’t she call your other sibling, who works from home, and doesn’t have such a hectic schedule? No, she chooses you, and now it’s going to put your job in jeopardy.

Why didn’t you say no? Some reasons can include these feelings:

  • You don’t know how
  • You’re afraid of disappointing her
  • You feel guilt for all she does for you
  • You haven’t been spending much time with her because of your schedule.

Do You Suffer from a Lack of Setting Boundaries?

According to Psychology Today, one of the main reasons people have trouble saying no is that they lack limits. Some people have no issue standing up for themselves, as refusing a task feels liberating. What about those who fear they will disappoint or hurt someone they care about deeply?

If you’re one of the people who feel intimidated or uncomfortable telling others no, then you need to establish boundaries. When you don’t have borders to protect you, you jeopardize your health and wellbeing. Consider a limit you set with your spouse that no friends or family can come to your home unannounced.

What do you do if your sister shows up at your door without calling first? You don’t answer as she’s violated a rule you’ve made to keep the peace. While this may be hard for you, she knows that you like to run around in a t-shirt or pajamas, making you uncomfortable.

Additionally, if she knows your preferences and still defies a boundary you set, then the outcome shouldn’t be a surprise. You’re not saying no to visitors, but you’re saying that everyone must call to allow you time to make the house and yourself presentable.

Now keep in mind that limitations need to be flexible at times, such as if she drove six hours to get there and her hotel room wasn’t ready. However, you’re setting such limits because you’re protecting yourself, which is the best kind of self-love where you know your limitations.

Consider This Example of Saying No in Action

You’ve worked overtime for the past month, and you’re so exhausted you feel like you could sleep for a week. The manager called on you to work over again, but you’re frustrated as you know there are people in your department who haven’t worked one extra shift.

You want to be a team player, and you want to be an employee that your boss can depend on, but you’re exhausted. You already had plans for this weekend, and part of it involved resting. This is an instance where you must choose yourself over your boss’s extra money and guilt.

Let management know that you can’t keep working these hours, and others can take their turn. To help matters, tell them that you will be willing to work over one weekend a month, but you can’t do anything more than this maximum. By setting a firm boundary, you’re letting them know your limits.

Saying no becomes easier when you have these restrictions in place, as someone already knows your limitations and shouldn’t cross them. If you let people walk all over the guidelines you’ve set, then there’s no sense in having them. These little self-rules allow you to know your limits and not let anyone else push you around.

Saying No with Tact

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Do you know how to say no to people? Why is this two-letter word so brutal? Some people get so overwhelmed by this simple word that they will develop anxiety or panic attacks.

There’s no need to be all worked up when you’re standing up for yourself. It would help if you found a way to say no that feels natural to you, and you can do it with kindness. One trick many utilize is to use positive comments and then stick that negative one somewhere in the middle.

For instance, your in-laws want you to spend Christmas day at their house, but you always spend Christmas eve with them and Christmas day with your parents. You get a call from your father-in-law, who wants to confirm the change. You feel guilt, anger and don’t want to make changes that affect more than just your in-laws.

So, you start by telling your father-in-law how much you enjoy spending the holidays at their house each year, and then you tell them that you will need to continue to do it as planned on Christmas day. By using something positive before the negative, you have a better chance of not offending him. Saying no to someone doesn’t have to be something huge that you need to think long and hard over.

Remember, your self-care and mental wellbeing come first. Don’t let people walk all over you and change your plans when it’s an inconvenience. You need to take care of yourself, as no one else will put as much effort into your mental wellbeing as you.

Self-Care Aspects You Must Consider

You need to understand why it’s so important to tell someone no. The Parent Teacher’s Association called and asked if you could make all the food for the next meeting. You did it last year when you were out of a job, so it wasn’t such a big deal to put in the extra time.

However, you’re working now, and you can’t take on such a monumental task. When you tell the PTA director no, you’re saying that you’re not going to take what little time you have away from yourself and your family. This is time that you can schedule something else to do, like read a good book, play a game with your children, or go on a date with your spouse.

When you already feel stretched too thin and exhausted, adding anything else to your plate is a recipe for disaster. So, it would help if you cared enough about yourself to ease your burden. You know that cooking day and night for two days is going to cause your stress levels to boil over, not to mention hurt your family budget.

This is where you learn that it’s all about taking care of yourself and saying no. Just releasing some stress from your plate can improve your mental health.

Letting Your Inner Confidence Shine

Pamela Mendelsohn is a psychotherapist at My Therapy NYC. She talks about why the word no should be an active part of your vocabulary in the article. When you say no to one thing, she states it’s because you’re saying yes to something else. For instance, if you say no to working overtime, you’re saying yes to caring for your needs or family time.

She also states that you’re cultivating healthy relationships when you learn the power of the word no. Who wants friends that you can’t be honest with? It would be best if you spoke your mind and did not worry about others being offended. Additionally, you need to make sure that you prioritize your feelings as they’re essential.

Consider the doormat in front of your door at home. How many times has it been walked on, trampled over, and kicked as people come into your house? Soon, the mat wears out because of the abuse it suffers, and you must replace it.

If you allow people to walk on you, throw their dirt on you, and kick you all around, you’re not going to be in-tact mentally or physically for long. People can only take so much, and then they break. So, saying no is just a way for you to take control of your life.

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Final Thoughts on Saying No

There’s no easy way to tell people no. Even if you try to sugar coat it with some positivity, it’s eventually coming down to the cold, hard facts. Instead, practice rejecting little things, like telling the door-to-door salesperson no. As you become more confident in using this word, you can work up to the more significant matters.

Once you learn how to establish limits and guidelines for yourself, it’s much easier to put people back in their place when they step out of line. If you’re tired of having things piled on you, being walked over, and not having time or respect for your personal space, it’s time to start learning the power of saying no.

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