The Importance Of Saying "No"

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Refusing to partake in an activity, or declining an invitation to a social event, is - societally at least - viewed as rather… regressive. We live in a world where everyone is encouraged to do what they want, live life as they see fit, and find their path; but for some reason, these philosophies fly out of the window when someone refuses to do something that others think is a good idea.

As a result, most people reading this will have found themselves, at some point in the past, saying “yes” when they really want to say “no”. Perhaps you agreed to go out for the night when you really wanted to curl up in bed; found yourself on the back of a friend’s motorcycle when you’d initially refused out of fear of an accident; or just accepted a work project that you didn’t have time for - whatever the scenario, you agreed somewhat against your will, for fear of the repercussions of saying “no”.

Building your confidence

The ability to refuse to do something you don’t want to do is strongly related to confidence. If your self-confidence is low, you’re all the more likely to find yourself persuaded by the force of someone else’s will - you’re likely to agree that, okay, you’re comfortable with riding a motorcycle, and fine, you might as well take on that extra work project, because your diminished self-confidence convinces you that your gut instinct is one to be overruled.

As a result, working on building your confidence is the first step to finding the ability to say “no”. There are a variety of different ways to build your confidence, ranging from daily affirmations to visiting a therapist, so it’s worth exploring your options in this regard. In addition, you may find it helpful to read through in order to bolster your ability to trust your decision-making, so you can feel more confident that your instinctive “no” reaction is actually the correct one.

Finding the confidence to say “no” in the moment

Working on your self-confidence is an important step, but learning to say “no” in the moment is inherently challenging. Someone is making an offer that you want to refuse; go for a motorcycle ride, spend a night out on the town - whatever it is, they want you to say yes. This means you will inevitably experience a greater sense of pressure, even if the person making the offer doesn’t intend you to feel that way at all.

So, how can you address this? The best way is usually to use facts; simply explain why you are saying no. If you’re scared of riding a motorcycle as you fear you’ll inevitably need assistance from, then say so; if you have to be up early the next morning, explain this; if you’re concerned another work project will impact your stress levels, then quickly explain this concern. By relying on factual, reasoned arguments, the person making the offer should understand your point of view and back down. If they don’t, then stand by those facts; they’re valid, and if someone takes issue with them, that reflects on them, not you.

In conclusion

By improving your self-confidence and using factual, reasonable justifications when refusing, you should feel all the more empowered to resist activities you’d rather not be involved in.

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