Do you say “yes” to everything that’s asked of you by your family, friends, or boss? Are your days filled with so many things you must do that you have no time left to do the things you want? Do you find it hard to say “no”?

Well, if this sounds like you, then learning how and why you should say no will improve your quality of life.

Reasons why saying No is essential

1. Saying No is the same as saying Yes to yourself.

Learning to say no will help you find balance in your life and improve your self-esteem. This is because you will be focusing on what is important for you instead of trying to do everything for everyone else.

It is also a key component of self-care. When you don’t learn to say no, it’s easy to overcommit and take on too many things. This can lead to stress and burnout, both of which can negatively impact your mental health.

By making the most of your time doing things that are important, you will feel more satisfied with your life.

2. Saying No is good practice.

Saying no can be difficult, especially for those of us who have been socialized to find it impolite. The good thing is that you can shift and reframe your mindset.

Saying no isn’t selfish or inconsiderate, it’s about knowing your limits and respecting them. Only you know what you need and when you need it. Only you can give that to yourself.

So start by saying no to small things throughout the day such as:

When should you say no

Understanding when you should say no, is the first step in having the confidence to say it. Here are some guidelines to help you recognise when it might be time to say no.

You should say “no” when:

  1. You are overly tired
  2. It is something you dread doing
  3. You are not certain about your feelings on it (just say you need to say “no” until you know your schedule better)

You should say “yes” when:

  1. You feel passionate about the activity, event, task
  2. If this is a way to your desired goal
  3. It is something that fits in with your values

3. Saying No helps to set boundaries.

Learning to say no means setting limits and boundaries, which is essential to caring for yourself. When you say no to something that doesn’t serve you, you’re setting healthy boundaries.

The goal is not to be mean, but to set boundaries with people. This could mean saying no when someone asks you to volunteer or take on extra work they don’t want to do, or telling people that you can’t afford their requests (whether a loan or a gift) because you are saving money.

It doesn’t matter if the person asking for your help is a friend, family member, or boss. The goal is to say no, in order to avoid burnout and giving more than you’re able to give.

James Altucher and Claudia Azula Altucher also highlighted how the word “No” can help you save time and trouble inside their book titled The Power of No: Because One Little Word Can Bring Health, Abundance, and Happiness.

4. Saying No stops you from resenting loved ones, friends, and co-workers who take advantage of you.

It’s hard to say no when you feel guilty. You don’t want to hurt the person’s feelings, let them down or be judged as a bad person. In order to avoid these consequences, we often do whatever is asked of us even if it means putting our own needs aside. That is until we have had enough and resent whoever has taken advantage of us for so long.

Saying no might make you feel anxious at first, but it will help your relationships in the long run because it:

5. Saying No stops you from being a people pleaser.

Being a people pleaser is exhausting — it means that you’re putting other people first, and not doing what you really want to do.

Saying no forces you to be true to yourself. If saying “no” is harder for yourself than it is for other people, it may be because what other people want conflicts with what you want.

It also means doing something that goes against the grain — which can be uncomfortable at the time, but ultimately makes life easier in the long run by steering us toward our goals.

Lastly, saying no is freeing and empowering. If saying no makes it easier for you to achieve goals that are important for improving your quality of life (e.g., exercising more often, or eating healthier), then saying no is worth doing more often!

Polite ways to say no

Being confident in declining an offer or saying no is key to having the confidence to do say. Here are some polite ways to say no;

If you want to read more resources about self-development and mental health, check out our workplace happiness and team building resources here.