Saying No Is Healthy

For many with anxiety, the word “No” can breed a whole host of worries. Whether you’re telling or being told no, the word itself is just ripe with anxiety triggers. Depending on the situation you’re in, the word no can be meaningless, or determine the rest of your life. Such power contained in a small word. While being told no could be seen as a failure, which I’ve written an article on failure (here), we are going to focus on one of my favorites, saying no to others. By one of my favorites, I mean I have an insanely hard time telling people no due to a low self esteem and a desire to be needed, so yeah, my favorite.

Telling someone no, whether it’s a friend, a boss, a parent, or anyone else, can be difficult and have severe consequences. At least, that’s what anxiety wants you to believe. It wants you to think that if you tell your boss you can’t work overtime, your boss will think you’re a bad employee. The same goes for your parents and being a bad child, or your friends and being a bad friend. Basically anxiety wants you to think that you’re a bad person for saying no. The truth is, no is not a loaded word as anxiety would have you believe. It is, by itself, a complete answer. You see, most of the stress in the word no, comes from what happens after it is said. You’re stressing about the reaction of the person, explaining yourself, giving reasons, making excuses, and eventually the consequences. Again, no is a complete answer. There is no need to explain yourself, whatever the reason you declined whatever it is, it’s none of the other person’s business.

You need to take control in these situations, because you hold the power. Someone is asking you to do something for them. It all hinges on what your response is, so you’re in control. Even with people who normally would be “above” you such as your boss or parents, they are giving you the leverage without even realizing it. Now, some people will try to guilt you into changing your answer. All you have to do is repeat yourself, because no is a whole and complete answer. Do not explain, do not reason, because that would be giving your leverage away. Simply stand firm in your answer, and resolve to stand by it.

So really, all you need to do, is what’s best for you. If you still feel bad for saying no, you’re welcome to apologize, but do not start spewing reasons, because again, not something you want to do. Getting used to saying no will take some time, but you will get used to it. It’ll become second nature to simply state no, rather than scurry around for excuses and reasons. So stand firm, and take control of your anxiety!



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1 Response

  1. I’ve struggled with “no” my whole life. I’ve really gotten a grip on it in my more recent years. Realizing my codependent tendencies and breaking situations down help.

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