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Learning to say ‘no’ for better mental health – especially for people pleasers

How often do you say yes when you mean no?

How often do you regret saying yes when you meant no?

How often do you resent doing something that you said yes to when you meant no?

Sound familiar?

Many of us have succumbed to peer pressure, subtle manipulation or someone’s controlling behaviour which has meant we have done things we have not wanted to do. But, when saying yes when we want to say no or just saying yes before even thinking about the consequences occurs, this is ‘people pleasing’.

Our social systems can naturally require us to say yes or please others, or our work will require it, but people pleasing is much more personal. It is actually more about how we view ourselves than how other’s view us. We may be fooled that it’s all about what other people think of us and their expectations, but it’s often about what we assume other’s will think and not based on real evidence. I have written before about assumptions and how they get in the way of healthy relationships and this is where assumptions come in… 

“If I don’t say yes, they won’t like me.”

“If I don’t say yes, they will think I’m selfish”

“If I don’t say yes, I will lose my job”

If there is a reality about these things, then maybe we need to think before saying no, but otherwise, if they are just assumptions we could think about whether they are actually important or not. If someone didn’t like us because we said no, do we really want to be friends with them anyway? 

This leads on to being taken for granted. The more we say yes, the more we may be asked or even taken for granted. This could lead to a real sense of resentment or annoyance. We don’t like to be taken for granted, but is it something to do with how we have been that we have allowed ourselves to be taken for granted? Have we brought it upon ourselves and is the resentment actually at ourselves rather than the person or people we think we are aiming it at?

Lots of things to think about.

I have also written an article on ‘Boundaries’ and why we need them. Personal boundaries are what we decide we will and won’t do or put up with as such. Knowing what to say yes or no to are part of our personal boundaries, and part of what we need to do to ensure we are content and healthy.

So, next time you go to say yes automatically, have a little think about what you really want. 

If you do decide you want to say yes more often, do so carefully and slowly as you would want to avoid any conflict changes to yourself may have on others’ and therefore how they may react.

Take care 🙂 

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