How to Say No and Set Boundaries to Live a Happier Life

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Saying no can be surprisingly difficult, especially if you don’t like to disappoint people. Whether your boss has asked you to work extra hours at the weekend or your partner’s parents have invited themselves over for Christmas again, if it’s not what you want, you need to make your feelings known. It’s time to start being assertive and setting boundaries. Fortunately, there are ways of saying no that won’t leave you feeling guilty.

Learning to say no establishing healthy boundaries

If you often find yourself thinking ‘no’ but end up saying ‘yes’ in a panic, you’re not alone. Many people struggle to say no, and this is usually because they fear being judged, disliked or rejected. They fear that friends, family and colleagues will look down on them if they disappoint them. The trouble is, if you’re always trying to please other people, this will stop you from being yourself and you may find that you’re not as happy as you could be. You might end up feeling stressed and resenting yourself for being too nice. As a child, you may have learned that saying no to people like parents and teachers was rude or unkind, and it’s possible that you have subconsciously carried this belief into your adult life. However, the truth is that saying no doesn’t mean that you are being rude, selfish, or unkind. It just means you’re living your life for you and no-one else.

The best ways of saying no

If you want to stop being too nice and finally started pleasing yourself, read on. The following advice will help you to say no instead of yes and set boundaries that you’re comfortable with. Remember, everyone has the right to say no when they’re not happy with something, so don’t be afraid to say the word!

Be in tune with your body

When someone asks you to do something you don’t want to do, pay careful attention to your body. Stress affects the body in ways we don’t even realise. For example, you might feel your heart rate increase or start breathing more quickly. You might also feel your muscles tighten and become tense. If you sense that your body is not happy with something, that’s a good indication that you should bite the bullet and say no.

Don’t make any quick decisions

It may be natural for you to say yes right away when someone asks something of you, but this isn’t necessary. Taking your time before answering will help you to make the right decision. Tell them that you’ll think it over or that you’ll get back to them soon with a response. This will allow you to say no politely the next day if you wish. There’s really no reason why you should feel pressured into saying yes or no then and there. It’s totally reasonable for you to say you need to check your schedule before answering.

Offer a solution

One way to soften the blow that may come with saying no is to offer a solution. Providing an alternative will leave them less hurt and help you stay on good terms with the person you’re turning down. For example, if a friend asks you to join them at a local bar but it’s not really your thing, you could ask them to grab a coffee instead. Or if relatives ask to stay at your home whilst in town but you’d rather they didn’t, you might suggest offering to help them find suitable local accommodation instead. Rather than simply saying no, suggest an alternative solution that’s agreeable to you both.

Avoid making excuses

Explaining why you’re saying no might seem polite, but it may leave you in an awkward situation. If you give an excuse, this may lead the other person to modify their request so that your answer is no longer valid. For example, if someone you don’t like asks you out for dinner and you say you’re busy on the date they suggested, they might then simply ask you what date works best for you. All you need to do is thank them for asking but you’re sorry, you can’t agree to it. This will prevent an argument occurring when they inevitably modify their request.

Whether you’re always saying yes in your relationship and it’s making you miserable or you’re forever bowing to your bosses requests at work, you need to start saying no and putting yourself first. Saying yes might seem like the easy option if you don’t want to make waves, but you will only end up making yourself unhappy and resentful. It’s time to start establishing boundaries with people in your life. Believe it or not, it’s possible to say no whilst still showing compassion and kindness.