Yes, you can say no.

Sometimes you may find yourself having difficulty saying no. Whether to offers, requests, opportunities, or invites, saying yes feels easier and less complicated than stating no. In the short-term that may be true. However, in the long-term your wants and needs may go unnoticed, which may negatively affect your well-being. 

So, how do we navigate these situations? Follow these three steps.

Step 1: Assess Your Feeling

Before defaulting to yes, take time to determine how you really feel by asking yourself these questions:

  • Does this align with my values and needs?
  • Do I have the time, energy, and attention to be fully engaged?
  • Am I really interested in doing this?
  • How will this affect my life? 

Step 2: Address Other Concerns

You have identified your feelings and want to say no, but you have other challenges. Do any of these sound familiar to you? 

  • Uncertainty about the recipient’s response
  • Insecurity delivering your answer
  • Sense of guilt or lack of comfort

These concerns are very common and can be worked through. First, you do not have responsibility for how others feel or react. You only have ownership over your own actions and decisions. You are your own individual, just like them. Second, communicating your no may seem uncomfortable and not easy. However, your thought and respect into how and what you ultimately communicate goes a long way. 

Step 3: Establish Your Boundary

It’s time to honor your truth and demonstrate respect for yourself. Saying no does not equate to being mean or selfish. This means that you have identified something that is important to you. 

A simple and direct “no, thank you” imparts honesty and respect. Alternatively, perhaps you can view the request as an opening to a negotiation where you can offer a modification that fits your needs. No can be said in a variety of ways and can look different for each person, so find what works best for you.

Remember, saying no creates the opportunity for you to be present in the meaningful moments where you say yes.

Janice Cuaresma

Mental Health Student Intern