Why You Really Should Say No When You Want To…

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By Stacey Rose, PhD, LCSW

A wise friend of mine once told me, “If you ever have a choice between saying no and feeling guilty about it, or saying yes and feeling resentful, choose guilt.”  This struck me.  So often times, I hear people talk about how they want to say no to someone but feel obligated or feel bad, so they end up saying yes to things they truly don’t want to do.  This helps no one.  Instead, it sets up a situation where resentment builds and lingers.  Resentment eats away at us like a cancer.  Guilt, on the other hand, fades.  The temporary guilt you feel is a gateway to living a life that is more in sync with who you are.

Think about a situation where you were asked to do something you didn’t want to do.  I bet it won’t take long to remember one.  How did you handle it?  Did you agree to do something that you did not want to?  How did it leave you feeling?  How did this impact your relationship?  

Conflicts occur when we think one thing on the inside and our behavior says something different on the outside.  Conversely, people are at their happiest and most peaceful place when their inside matches their outside.  Does yours match?

So, why do we say yes when we really want to say no?  Often, it is due to wanting others to like or approve of us.  But the reality is that if they only like us because we are agreeing with them all the time, they aren’t seeing the authentic version of who we are.  It is only when we show others our true selves, that we give them the chance to love, like, and accept us, ‘as is’.  When this happens, we have a real relationship.  

Saying no when we feel like saying no is a gift we give to ourselves.  Our time is short and precious on this Earth, why waste it doing things we don’t want to do?