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by Katie Bailey, MA, LPC

You say “yes” all the time. No matter how busy you are, you can’t turn down anyone who asks for your help, even if it hurts you or your family. Why can’t you say no?

Many people believe saying no to other’s requests is selfish or uncaring. Often times people can’t say no because they fear hurting or damaging a relationship, or they really believe other people’s wants and needs are more important than their own. Some of us were taught at an early age that care taking is what makes us lovable. We can’t shake that lesson.

When you say yes to make others happy, those people control your life, not you. If you are one of these “people pleasers” you most likely don’t even know what you want – really, who you are. Do you want to go to every social event you are invited to? Do you like large parties or small groups? Do you like to cook or is Grubhub your favorite app? Do you prefer Chinese food or pizza? How do you want to spend your time? Yoga? Running? Watching a movie? Drinking good coffee?

We need to know ourselves well to be able to say yes or no with confidence. What you like, how you choose to spend your time, where you invest your energy – all of these things are up to you, and your choices matter. When you can’t say no you will likely:

  • Feel burnt out and exhausted.
  • Resent people around you.
  • Be easily irritated and cranky.
  • Feel depressed or anxious.
  • Miss out on the life you were made to live. When we say yes to all the wrong
    things, we inadvertently say no to other things that matter.

Now hear me clearly – of course helping people out, saying yes sometimes is a great thing. However, when and how you say yes has to be your free choice – not because you feel you have to say yes to keep someone else happy.

Learn to Say No

  • Use fewer words. When you say no to someone, you don’t have to give a lengthy explanation. Just keep it simple. “Thank you for asking me, but that won’t work for me this week.”
  • Realize the difference between the request and the person. You are saying no to what the person asked, not to the relationship.
  • Be honest with yourself. If you hate large crowds and loud music, don’t say yes to go to a concert with your friends. You should get to know yourself and what you like and what you don’t – and follow that.
  • Say no to your kids without guilt. Kids need to realize that they aren’t the center of the world. It’s okay to say, “I love playing with you, but right now I need a break.” This teaches your kids to learn to respect other’s boundaries at an early age.

Learn to Set Boundaries

At Lime Tree Counseling, our therapists are experts in helping you have healthy relationships. We want you to find the balance between loving others and loving yourself well. If you make decisions only to please others, reach out to us today. We want to help you live life as you were made to live!

Start Anxiety Counseling in Ambler, PA

Often when we struggle to set good boundaries, we get anxious. Also, when we start to get emotionally healthy, those around us react poorly to our new boundaries. We are changing they way they are used to relating to us. Don’t let anxiety snowball – our team specializes in anxiety therapy and can help you tame your anxiety, learn practical skills, and regain control of your life. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.