The Power of Saying “No”

Americans have more stress-related illnesses than any other developed nation.

If you’re like me, the word “no” can be hard to say, even when you feel you shouldn’t take on anything else. You may feel obligated to say yes all the time for fear of conflict, fear of what others may think or the habit of helping others over yourself. Whatever the case may be, one of your greatest tools is the word “no.”

No has several superpowers. It can:
• Prevent you from being wrongfully exploited.
• Allow you to set boundaries.
• Keep your mental health as top priority.
• Help keep you aligned with your goals or aspirations.
• Inhibit unrealistic expectations.
• Keep you comfortable in any situation.
• Give you a confidence boost.
• Simplify your life.

The word “no” can seem harsh. The brain naturally responds better to positive stimuli, such as “yes” or positive reinforcement. Contrarily, the brain reacts harshly and more impulsively to negative experiences, such as being told “no”.

Research from Columbia University has found that our own perception of ourselves when we say no is far different from reality. So, if you believe you are being too harsh, chances are others don’t feel the same way.

The key is to ease your way into assertiveness. At first, try cushioning it. At work, try using “I don’t have the capacity right now.” At home, a simple “I don’t have time” or “I don’t agree with what you’re asking” will suffice. The power is still there, but it makes for a softer impact.

Saying no does not mean you are weak, disorganized or looking to create conflict. It means you are choosing to take care of yourself, focus your energy on things that matter to you and accept that sometimes you need a break. That’s something we should all say yes to.

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Photo credit: Comeback Images

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  1. This article hits home for me. When I began to say no, some people were a little taken back. I needed to protect by mental health as well as my physical health. I was always that person who said yes. Now, I am very comfortable with saying no, but in a nice way.

  2. Thank you for this article, I’m struggling with saying no. I will print this article for work, home and church.

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