How to Say No Without Feeling Bad About It

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I never thought that such a simple word could make such a profound difference in my life. Has anyone asked you to lunch so they can, “Pick your brain?” Have you found yourself in a parasitic relationship where someone you hardly know, seems to only text you when they need or want something?

If you’ve ever found yourself bogged down with requests to help friends move, it’s a lot like that. The first few times you enjoy it, but when you become the go-to ‘he’ll help you move for some beer and pizza’ guy it gets old fast.

I believe we all find ourselves in a position like this at one point or another, but when it starts to happen too frequently, something has to change. Oftentimes that means you need to set your mindset to consider your own needs first. My mother always said, “You have to love yourself before you can love someone else,” and it rings true to me.

How to say, “no” without hurting someone’s feelings.

Most times we are wary of hurting someone else’s feelings by saying no, or upsetting them when we don’t go above and beyond to please them. More times than not, they are capable of handling the task on their own but were too lazy to do it themselves.

For example, when asked to help an individual that I do not know set up their e-commerce store I like to provide a reason as to why I can’t or won’t do something. I will say something along the lines of, “Unfortunately, I will not be able to volunteer my services as I’ve got a full plate of responsibilities that require my full attention.”

This gets your point across and explains that it’s not because you don’t just feel like it, but that you’re too busy to do it for them for free.

What I learned was that when you’ve already got an overflowing plate of responsibilities, it’s important to say no sometimes. You cannot do everything, please everyone, and accomplish your own goals to your best ability when you’re spread so thin.

Unfortunately, most people (like me) only realize this once the damage has been done. I am a strong believer in that you should always be both a student and a teacher, but if you don’t put yourself first, nobody else will do it for you. You have to value your own time, and create a life that works for you before you can focus on anyone else.

Take a moment to think about what’s important to you.

What are your goals? Whom do you hope to be in 3, 5, or even 10 years? Start saying no to things that don’t make you a better person, that don’t educate you or feed your soul (or your family), and start saying yes to yourself.