Don’t Feel Guilty For Saying No

saying no
saying no
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Every single day, we are bombarded with requests. From email, text, calls, all the way to physical interactions, the requests are constant. How we respond to these requests will drastically determine the course of our days. They determine how we respond to other commitments, the goals that we want to achieve, and to the time that we allow ourselves to decompress and relax.

Well, since most of us have a tendency to be people-pleasers, we feel guilty for saying no and so we resort to saying yes no matter what that looks like. 

We believe that we have to say yes to everything. If we don’t say yes, we fear that we are going to miss out on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. If we don’t say yes, then we fear that we will never get another chance. Worst of all, if we don’t say yes, we fear that we are going to disappoint others. None of us want that. 

But saying yes isn’t always the answer. It’s not the right thing to do, nor the best thing to do. Sometimes you simply owe it to yourself to say no and not feel guilty for it. Sometimes, simply saying no is better than saying yes. 

Think back to a time where your manager asked you to take on an additional project at work. You felt overwhelmed, stressed out to the brink of insanity, and odds are, you didn’t complete that project to the best of your ability because of all the other tasks that consumed your attention span as well.

How about in your personal life? Do you find yourself overly committing to others? When somebody asks you to hang out, you probably say yes. When somebody asks you for a favor, you will probably drop everything that you’re doing for them. We just simply love to feel needed and relied on so when the opportunity comes, we say yes. But just realize that every time you say yes to others, you are prioritizing them more than yourself.

Make Yourself Your #1 Priority

Everybody has a life that they envision themselves living. No matter who you are, you have goals and dreams that you want to achieve. The truth is, if you want to start achieving more of your goals and dreams, you can’t be afraid to say no to others. This doesn’t mean that you are rude. It just means that you are busy. 

If you aren’t willing to pursue your wants and desires in life, you will never achieve them. Everybody else is busy chasing their goals and dreams (probably why they are asking you for help) to chase your goals and dreams for you. If you want to live the life that you envision yourself living, then you need to be willing to make yourself your most important priority. And why wouldn’t you?! This is YOUR life. 

The One Caution With Saying No

The only thing that I caution, is saying no too much, or saying no to everything. I will admit that I have a problem with commitment. I like following a certain routine, and if an opportunity came up that was going to break that routine, I would find myself saying no basically every time. 

Eventually, I quit getting asked. I quit getting asked to do favors for others, to go out with friends, and to really do much of anything. Those who knew me generally knew the answer, so they would just save their time and not even ask. And rightfully so. If I was in their position, I would have done the same thing. 

While it’s nice to do whatever you want when you want, it can also be lonely. When you push away the majority of the relationships in your life, life itself can get incredibly dark and depressing. That’s why you need to find a balance.

It’s okay to say no to others and not feel guilty for it, but that doesn’t mean you need to say no to everything. The opposite is true as well. Just because you say yes to others, you don’t need to say yes to everything. It’s all about finding balance

When You Say Yes, You Say No To Something Else

Every time that you say yes to something, you are simultaneously saying no to something else. When you say yes to going out on the town with friends, you are saying no to relaxing and getting a good night’s sleep. When you say yes to picking up another project at work, you are saying no to other tasks and your ability to give those other tasks your undivided attention. And every time that you say yes to chasing your goals and dreams, you are saying no to the spur of the moment opportunity and memories with friends and family. 

This is where you have to decide what’s most important to you. There are going to be consequences either way, and you have to accept the fact that you are going to be living with these consequences. But as long as you are making yourself your most important priority and are confident in your choices, you have nothing to worry about – even if that means disappointing others. 

If you truly want to achieve the life that you have always envisioned for yourself, then you need to be okay with saying no to others when they try to take your time. You also need to be okay with the consequences that may result. If you want to be more open to others, then you need to say no to accomplishing every small goal of yours. Again, you need to be okay with the consequences that may result. 

There is give and take with both sides. Make no mistake though, this is your one and only life to live. You ultimately need to do what is going to be best for you and what is going to turn you from the person that you are now into the person that you want to be. Saying no doesn’t make you a bad person. It just means that you are saying yes to something else. 

Lastly, when you say yes to everybody and everything else around you, are you really becoming your best self? No. That is why you need to make yourself your most important priority. You can’t give what you don’t have, and if you aren’t the very best that you can be, then you can’t give the very best version of you. 

How To Not Feel Guilty For Saying No

I know that my family is going to disagree with me, but there was a time where I used to say yes to everything, just not the things that they asked of me. I was caught up in becoming the person that my peers wanted me to be. Because of that, how my peers thought about me was more important than how my family thought about me, and definitely far more important than how I thought about myself.

If somebody would have needed my help, I would have been there. If another person told me to jump, I would have asked how high. I wanted attention, I wanted to be liked, and I wanted to be accepted. Yes became my favorite word, but only for those whose attention I sought. 

I am sharing this because it led me down a dark road of depression and self-hatred. I didn’t feel as if I had a purpose and was allowing those around me to determine my overall quality of life. What I wish I would have done differently, I wish I would have said no

If you find yourself in the same predicament that I was in, here are some ways to help you out. 

1. Just openly say no. If you don’t want to do something, don’t do it. You don’t need to justify your emotions to anybody other than yourself. 

2. Ask for some time to think about it. Weigh out the pros and cons. If you feel like you have time, say yes. If you have something else pressing or just don’t want to do it, then just say no. But at least by thinking about it, you aren’t making rash decisions that you will later regret. 

3. Tell them you will another time. With this, you aren’t saying no or yes. It’s just saying that right now isn’t a good time but aren’t open to opportunities down the road. 


It’s not always easy, but it’s important to do. You can’t say yes to everything while still being able to accomplish the things that you want to achieve. That’s why you need to find a balance that is best suited for you – a balance that consists of both yes and no. But no matter what you do, don’t feel guilty for saying no. Your life is yours to live. Everybody else has their own to live, so there isn’t a need to feel obligated to give them yours as well. 

Oddly enough, saying no has opened up a lot more opportunities for me. I am achieving more of my goals, I have developed stronger relationships, and I have gained a sense of clarity and mental stability. I guess you could say that overall, saying no has helped me to find happiness in my life that I never knew existed… all because I was saying yes to too much.

Michael Bonnell

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