Have your friends ever asked you to do something for them or go somewhere you didn’t want to go and you just couldn’t say “No thanks”? It might be a fear of losing them as a friend or your desire to look good to everyone else, but sometimes we let others push us into things because we just can’t manage to say that two letter word that would solve everything “N-O!” You don’t have to shout it or get pushy, but politely refusing is something we need to be comfortable doing for our own safety and well-being.
It shows you have an independent mind, and you don’t let others push you around. It shows you have your own ideas about what you would like to be doing. Saying “No” when necessary also maintains proper boundaries. A boundary is like an invisible line that separates what is you from what is someone else. Your boundaries consist of yourself and everything that you control about your life. So if someone steps over your boundaries, then they might make you feel like what you have to say isn’t important. Sometimes that bossy girl in class irritates you because she has just crossed a boundary. It is totally critical that we can say “No” and maintain healthy boundaries.
Sometimes people like to be told “No.” Yes, I know that sounds weird, but sometimes people like to be told “No” the first time. Take for example a classmate who offers to do the majority of the work on an assignment. By saying “No” you are showing that person how much you care about getting a good grade, and being a good team member!
It’s also important to be able to say “No” when something doesn’t feel right. If someone mentions going somewhere or doing something that you don’t think is right, it’s crucial that you are able to stand up for your beliefs. You can politely say “No” without it being a big deal. Learning to say “No” is important because as much as we hate to say it, it’s something you’ll have to do your entire life. However- it is so important that you know that you can say “No” and be forceful if necessary. If someone isn’t getting the message that you are uncomfortable- don’t be afraid to hurt someone’s feelings! If you are getting really scared about your personal safety; you have every right to get loud when you say “No”. You are always within your right to protect yourself if you are worried about your safety!
Try practicing with your parents. Ask them to pretend to be your friends and ask you to do something. If you have played out the scenario before it happens, you are likely to feel more comfortable saying “No” when the time comes. Keep in mind that there are all kinds of ways to say “No”, but saying it in a polite way is best! You know in life you’re going to make mistakes because no one is perfect, but remember the more you say “NO” when something doesn’t feel right and the more your say “NO” because you’re not following the right path, the less life altering or life changing mistakes you make in life. So hold your head up high and say to yourself “my life,career, self worth, and family are too important-I’m sticking up for myself today!”
If you feel like you might need some practice in this area, or feel like your boundaries have been violated in a way that causes you serious distress, please think about seeing seeing a counselor, who can help you manage these feelings, and practice setting healthy boundaries!