Hey Big Sis: How Can I Learn to Say No?

How to move on from being a people pleaser - The first part in my "Hi Big Sis" series
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Published on Feb 22, 2024
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Hey Big Sis how can I learn to say no?

This is part one of my "Hi Big Sis" series where I give you advice on some of life's challenges from a big sister's perspective. Follow me for more advice like this in the future! 

Big Sis says, start with a deep breath...

It isn't easy. Very often, you may find yourself stranded, struggling to say a 'no' that is stern and firm. "Sis, I feel bad. I feel like I'm being too harsh. It isn't much, it's an invitation to hang out at her place." But do you want to go? Are you being kind by accepting her invitation or are you trying to "people please" your way into the friend group?

I cannot emphasize how important it is to say no.  I know you feel bad. You might feel a range of emotions. Frustration sprinkled with a little bit of anxiety, just the right amount to make you wonder if you're being a good friend or if you're being a try-hard. Some shame at your incapability to say no and some anger at being so agreeable. 

But I say, it is what it is. You must say no. It is tiring and exhausting to be the one scrutinized for not showing up. People may make assumptions about the nature of your friendship. Sure your decision will be met with some protest, but, it is what it is. You don't want to go. So why force yourself to?

I want to share a personal experience from when I was 18. 18 is when so many people feel unloved.I would try to fit in wherever I could, even if it meant that I had to put myself into uncomfortable situations. God knows how many parties I've attended that I've absolutely despised. Trying to fit in with people who don't care about my wellbeing. More than the people and places and situations I encountered, I abhorred myself for being incapable of saying 'no' to the people and places and situations. 

I didn't necessarily say 'no' the first time. I would make excuses, I would drive the people away, and focus too much on what they would think of me. Don't do that. That takes away the agency of being able to say 'no'.  

Instead, just say a quick 'no, but thank you'. Don't think too much about it. If saying it out loud makes you feel uncomfortable, go back home, and text them a quick no. You never need to justify or apologize for your 'no'. I used to do that. "Oh, I'm sorry, I can't come. I just have too much work." Why? Why are you choosing to apologize for deciding for your own well-being? You don't feel comfortable doing something. It's your personal choice. Why should you apologize for having the cognitive ability to make decisions and choices? Would you apologize for having a favorite color? Would you apologize for liking certain books or shows? NO. 

I don't apologize for saying 'no'. Because I know the impact of my own actions.  I know the consequences of my own actions. I know why I am doing what I am doing. I am choosing to draw a line for my own well-being. So, the question is, 'Why should I apologize?' 

Sis says to trust yourself. Take a small step. And say NO. Say it loud and clear. Emphasize on your 'no'. A 'no' is a great way to start with creating a boundary. A 'no' is a great start to self-care. When you say 'no', you're choosing to trust yourself. As you should. 

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