NOWe all have a right to say no. Most of us are used to hearing this phrase in terms of drug use or consent (“Just say no!” and “No means no!”). Many of us feel as though we are obligated to do things, or that if we commit to something, we cannot change our minds and back out. This is false. We have the ability to make our own decisions, and to say no whenever we feel we need to.

Saying no can be hard! There are people that we want to impress, and a lot of the time, we truly don’t mind doing something for a person here or there. There are some of us however that feel overwhelmed with how much we have agreed to do, and we find ourselves unable to say no. Perhaps we want to seem like we are always willing to help, or we want to give a good impression of ourselves. Maybe, we don’t even realize that our problem is saying yes to everything. The good news is that there is always room to grow.

I have a friend that freelances her work, and she used to say yes to every job she was offered. It wasn’t long before she found herself exhausted and overworked, and ready to call it quits. After one particularly grueling few weeks of working straight through with no days off, my friend realized something needed to change. She was trying to hard to please the people around her that she lost her needs in the process. After a while of saying yes to everything, this friend began to say no to jobs based on a specific criteria. If that’s what helps you – go ahead and make a list of requirements in order to say yes. Or maybe, you just decide that you want to say no three times a week. The important thing is to remember that it is completely okay to say no to people, and you do not have to justify why you have done so.

I think this is something that trips up a lot of people, myself included. Not only do we feel as though we can’t say no, but we feel as though if we do say no, we have to have an amazing reason for doing so, and the person we are saying no to has to somehow be okay with it, or we must feel guilty. We’ve got to stop this! It is so much easier said than done though. If we can start saying no, and stop justifying ourselves for every decision we make, we might just be happier. But we have to start one step at a time. These behaviors are ingrained in us and they will not change overnight. We can become aware, and work to change them one behavior at a time.

Today, I challenge you to say no to something that you normally would say yes to. If you don’t feel comfortable with that quite yet, try to just become aware of the times you are justifying your actions to yourself and others, and see if you can’t catch yourself and remind yourself that you have your reasons, and others don’t need to know them.