In this day and age as we are getting older, it seems to get harder to say “no”. It might be because you feel guilty that you work too much and not hang out with your friends and family enough. Saying “no” is a very powerful statement. It helps stand your ground and build a boundary.

The importance of boundaries

Remember when you were a kid and you would pretend not to fall in the “lava” in your living room? That was a boundary you didn’t (figuratively) want to cross because you knew if you went in the lava you would lose the game (and melt in your living room). When it comes to setting boundaries we should be set to keep it how we kept our lava boundaries as children.Keeping a boundary is like keeping a promise to yourself. Why would you want to not trust yourself because you broke a boundary? The more you set a boundary and keep the promise to yourself…the more confidence you will build and the more you strengthen your “boundary muscles”.

Self Care

Saying, “no” can mean taking care of yourself as well. Let’s say you are exhausted from an extremely long week of work and it’s Friday night and you are invited out and you really, really would rather be home soaking in your bathtub eating bon bons (who does this btw? Please tell me how you do this). It’s ok to say “no” when you need that extra time to be home.

When saying “no” is too much

Sometimes saying, “no” too much can be a bad thing when it’s starts hindering your life. For example: When you say “no” so many times that you haven’t seen your friends in months. I know that boundaries are important, but so is socializing. Keep a balance in your life. If you said “no” last time think about if this time is worth it to say “yes”.You know when you say “no” too much when you start falling into depression. Not leaving your house for so long that your Tempur-Pedic mattress has your body imprint on it is not healthy. If you are saying, “no” because you feel “too depressed” or “too sad” to hang out, maybe going out can cure you! Being outside, getting fresh air, and socializing is good for you. Why deny yourself of it?

The guilty elephant

In some cultures when we say “no” they make us feel so guilty that we end up never doing what we want. Think about why they have this power over you? Think about how when they were growing up and how much guilt was bestowed upon them to “be enough” in their culture.I am sure you are thinking, “How am I supposed to make this million-year-old-guilty tradition end?” Depending on who it is you can start by telling them they are making you feel that way. If you feel like it is not safe for you to say that then you can internally give yourself a different dialogue than what you automatically think.For example:Friend/Family Member: “Lets go to dinner together”You: “I can’t I have to study”Friend/Family Member: “You never have dinner with us anymore”You: “I need to focus on my work”Friend/Family Member: “K”Just from a simple “K” and a “you’re never around” is an easy way to guilt-trip someone into doing whatever you want to do. Being on the other side sucks! You have things to do and you actually can’t hang out and they make you feel guilty.When this happens just tell yourself, “I AM DOING WHAT I CAN” or “I AM DOING WHAT’S BEST FOR ME.” When you repeat these phrases to yourself it will help eliminate the guilt and remind you of your priorities.