A lot of people derive a sense of purpose and satisfaction from seeing other people be happy as a result of their actions. Often called a need for validation, this personality trait is most frequently called being a “people-pleaser”. For the bulk of my life, I have also been a people-pleaser. And so I can say with confidence that this people-pleasing attitude leaves the possessors with two things. First, it a hard to resist the urge to always say “yes” to people and a terrible state of mental health.

However, now more than ever, given the rising levels of mental illness and poor mental health stats all over the world, there is a need to say “no”. Yes, you may think that you can’t say no. Yes, it may make you feel painfully uncomfortable to say no. And believe me, you will not be condemned for saying no.

Why You Need to Say No

Saying “yes” to everything and everyone will almost always lead to a constantly full plate. Feeling over-burdened and high levels of stress are other things that this behavior can cause. It’s important to understand that no matter how many tasks and people you take on, the number of hours in a day remains the same and the amount of rest your body needs will also remain the same.

Saying no does not make you selfish. An act or a person is only selfish in doing something is the act is done with a negative intention. However, saying no just means that you are respecting the obligations you already have and are ensuring your best ability is put into these things.

Saying yes is not always healthy. Taking on more obligations than you have the time for means you will have to cut corners and compromise in quality. It will also cause you stress and exhaustion that will reflect in your quality of work. So saying yes may actually affect not just your health, but also the quality of work.

Saying no allows you to expand your horizon and learn more things. If you’ve been doing something regularly, it’s good to take a step back and say no to it. This will leave you with more time to try something new and turn your hours into a learning experience!

How to Say NO!

The first step is to determine what the things you need to say no to are. After that, recognize and identify your thought process for saying yes. Is it out of a sense of anger or fear of disappointment from another person? Is it because you feel you are failing or not doing enough?

Once you have identified the thought process, evaluate this thought process and its validity. How true or valid is your argument for saying yes. Think about what is truly important and what you need to invest your time and energy into. Understand that just because you are capable of doing something doesn’t mean you have to do it.

Understand that saying no is a part of self-care, which is very important. Also, understand that saying no is just establishing your personal boundaries and respecting them. Here are a few tips to make this easier:

  • Be firm and say “No”. Avoid substitute phrases like “I don’t think I can” and “I’m not sure”.
  • Give your reason briefly, there is no need for elaborate justifications.
  • Don’t make excuses, be honest.
  • Be prepared to repeat the refusal. So if the need to refuse comes up, don’t melt and give in!
  • Be respectful, not harsh or mean. Politeness will always take you a long way.


It may not be easy at first, but over time it will become so and you will find yourself becoming happier and more in control!