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How to Say ‘No’ and Take Back Your Power

Have you ever said, “yes,” to an invitation or request and immediately regretted it?

In the moment it seemed like the right choice – less complicated than saying, “no.” In the short term that may be true. However, in the long term what you’re really doing is setting aside your own wants and needs, which may negatively affect your emotional well-being.

Every time you agree to something you really don’t want to do, the higher the chance for resentment and even anger to take root. That in turn can affect how you behave toward others and how you feel about yourself.

Here is a three-step process that can help empower you:

1. Assess Your Feelings

Ask yourself these questions to determine how you really feel before you default to saying, “yes.”

  • Does this align with my values and needs?

  • Am I really interested in doing this?

  • Do I have the time and energy needed to accomplish this?

  • Does this add or subtract from my life?

2. Face Your Internal Struggle

You identified your true feelings and want to say, “no,” but inside you’re worried about how you’ll be perceived and how the recipient will take the news. You may be feeling a sense of guilt and even dread communicating your true intention.

These are not uncommon concerns, and you can work through them. First, remember that you’re not responsible for other people's feelings or reactions. You’re only responsible for your own actions and decisions.

Second, expressing your “no” may feel awkward and uncomfortable. However, your effort will go a long way for both you and the other person. Hopefully, the thought and respect you gave to your decision will mean something to them and also make you feel empowered.

3. Establish Your Boundary

Now it’s time to stick to your decision and demonstrate respect for yourself. Saying “no” doesn’t mean you’re selfish, mean, or rude. Rather, it means that you have recognized something that is important to you. Simply answer with a “no, thank you,” which conveys truth and respect.

You can also take advantage of the situation and negotiate if that feels right for you. The word “no” can be communicated in various ways. You’ll need to figure out what works best for you given the situation and the individual involved.

And at the end of the day, saying “no” is really about saying “yes” to yourself and giving yourself the opportunity to be present in moments that have the most meaning for you.

Do you struggle with self-esteem or a lack of confidence? If so, reach out today to set up an appointment with a therapist at Turning Point Mental Health Center.

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