Is it hard for you to say no? If so, you may need to develop boundaries. Knowing how to say no and when to stand up for yourself can be extremely difficult, especially if you’ve been a people-pleaser in the past. It is like a muscle that needs to be built and exercised. To help you, here are some tips to learn to say no.
- Take Responsibility
You are responsible for your feelings. However, you’re not responsible for someone else’s feelings. If you feel you were not given a voice, you may feel responsible for how other people feel. And it might be hard for you to talk about your feelings. Start with someone you feel comfortable with, and practice disagreeing on small matters. This will help you gain confidence and understand how to own your truth.
- Be Firm
When it’s appropriate, give yourself permission to be assertive and to learn how to be firm but courteous. For example, maybe you set a goal to eat healthy and a friend invites you over to their house and offers you only junk food. You can tell them firmly, “No thanks. I’m making some healthy changes.” The other person’s response to your no is not the point. Remaining firm in your choice is what will help you reach your goals and enforce your values.
- Set Boundaries
Boundaries are limits that define what you respect: your choices, values, and other important things. If you are in a relationship with someone who disregards your feelings and values, it is up to you to speak your truth. If they are not able to abide by your request, you will need to decide what you will do to support your boundary. For example, if you are in relationship with someone who struggles with addiction and they continue to ask you for money and have even stolen from you, you would need to say, “I will not give you money. And if I discover that you have stolen from me, I will call the police.” Consequences will enforce your boundaries, but you have to allow the consequence to occur.
- Speak the Truth
Sometimes it’s hard to say no because you’re afraid of hurting someone’s feelings. But God does not want us to be dishonest with others. We read in Matthew 5:37, “Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Anything beyond this is from the evil one.” Their feelings might be hurt, but dishonesty wrecks any relationship. You must be honest in everything you do. And expect honesty from anyone with whom you have a relationship.
- Be Selfish
It’s okay, at times, to be selfish. But not self-centered—that’s where it’s always about you. God wants you to help others. But He does not desire other people to control, manipulate, or abuse you. If someone expects you to say yes to their unhealthy or unsafe demands, it is best to consider your own well-being. Even Jesus Himself did not allow the demands of others to control Him. And there were many times when He got away to pray and rest (see Luke 5:16).
- Just Say No
If you feel unsafe emotionally, or you disagree with the option you are given, you can just say no. And you should give others the freedom to say no, too. It can feel uncomfortable to go against the grain but it is a necessary part of healthy relationships. By learning how to say no, you will begin to see some positive changes in your life and your relationships.
Would you like to know more about how to have healthy boundaries? You can call us at 800-639-5433. We can help you find a licensed counselor, get connected to a Life Recovery Group, and discover resources that will help you.