Why does it feel so hard to say no? Some common reasons are:
It makes me feel strong, proud and important when others turn to me.
I am afraid of starting a conflict or hurting the other person’s feelings if I say no.
I worry that I might lose the relationship if I say no.
I am embarrassed to say I don’t have the money if I can’t afford to lend it.
I don’t feel like I have the right to refuse.
I want to help.
I always say yes, I can’t just start saying no now.
I feel guilty when I say no.
If any of those reasons sounds like you, here are some suggestions for learning to say no.
Practice letting yourself feel uncomfortable. Saying yes to someone else only because you feel guilty is a way of saying no to yourself, your goals and your needs.
Establish short and long-term goals that you share with others. If no is not yet a complete sentence for you, it may be easier to refuse with a reason that points to your goals so it is clear you are being purposeful rather than mean.
Focus on what you can do instead of what you can’t. For example, I can’t loan you money but I can help you brainstorm alternative solutions or explore other resources.
Especially if you feel pressured, delay your response until you’ve had a chance to review the situation.
Remember that you don’t have to rescue or save everyone all the time. Sometimes, deciding why your needs are important is the priority.
Offer a compassionate no. Acknowledge the need and express regret that you are unable to help in the way requested.
Remind yourself that your value lies not in what you are able to do for someone or give to someone. You are valuable just because you are you.