Saying No Without Guilt to Set Boundaries

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How often do you say yes because you were afraid of seeming rude or uncooperative? Well, if your answer is often, you’re in good company. Saying no can be hard, especially if have a history of trying to accommodate other’s feelings. Learning to say “no” though can strengthen your well-being and help clarify your boundaries with those around you. Here are 4 tips that can help you to start saying no and still walk away guilt free.

  1. Pause Before Responding:  When you are in a situation when you prefer to say no, it’s ok to pause before responding. Have some go-to statements at the ready such as, “I’ll have to think about that. I’ll get back with you,” or “Let me check my calendar and I’ll let you know.” That way you can buy yourself some time when you think you’ll feel guilty about not saying yes.
  • Elevate Your Own Value: Seeking others’ approval diminishes your own value and what is most important to you. Recognize that your needs, wants, and time are as valuable as others. There are times when we need to put others first. But keep your own value front of mind when you are considering when you need to put yourself first.
  • Don’t Run Away From the Fear: Sometimes you just have to do what scares you in order to get to a different place. Saying no can be uncomfortable but it’s a learned art. It takes practice to get comfortable learning how to do it in a way that honors both you and the other person.  
  • Consider Alternatives: When someone asks you to do something that you don’t want to or cannot do but you still want to be supportive, consider alternative suggestions. Instead of saying a flat out no, you might say, “I’m not able to do that, but how about this instead?” By making the effort to still be helpful, you may reduce or eliminate your sense of guilt and communicate that you care.

Staying no to things that do not serve you helps you to better honor yourself and others. It will also help you to better manage your time, reduce resentment in your life, and protect your energy.