Why is it Important to Learn to Say No?

Why is it Important to Learn to Say No?

Last update: 16 September, 2020

In life, we must learn to be understanding and to adapt to others from time to time. We all have to be flexible. However, there are people who, for different reasons (such as lack of self-esteem and feeling that they’re not worthy of love if they don’t meet other people’s expectations), yield so much that they lose themselves. Those people need to learn to say no.

Although offering a helping hand and being generous with others is a good thing and provides you with many benefits, it’s also important to remember that you’re your first priority. It’s okay to be flexible, but not to the point of doing everything to please others and put their needs before your own.

“It is not love that should be depicted as blind, but self-love.”


What are the consequences of being unable to say no?

If we don’t set limits, we disrespect ourselves. It’s as if we’re invisible to ourselves, giving those around us the right to decide for us. In fact, if we don’t learn to say no, our self-esteem may suffer to the point where we feel lonely and destined to fail.

Low self-esteem

Pleasing others instead of doing what we really want can make us feel miserable. In fact, it gets to a point where we feel worthless, like we’re good for nothing. Little by little, our self-esteem becomes more and more fragile due to this.

Girl feeling worried.


When we always do everything for others, we tend to ignore our true desires. Our focus is on pleasing those around us instead of meeting our own needs, which leads to a deep feeling of inner loneliness.

We start to think that nobody loves us for who we are, but for what we can do for them. But the truth is that, if that’s the case, our behavior is what’s feeding those thoughts. Think about this: how are other people going to get to know your true self when you’re only trying to satisfy their needs?


Pleasing other people comes with a price: putting our own desires and aspirations aside. This leads us to feel like failures for what could have been but wasn’t. This is why it’s so important to know our worth and set limits when it comes to our flexibility.

How can we learn to say no?

When we learn to say no, we start setting boundaries, caring for ourselves more, and giving ourselves the value we deserve. Although it may be hard at first, don’t lose any opportunity you have to express your true feelings. The following keys may help you achieve this:

Stop being afraid of criticism

No one is going to agree with everything you say or do. Once you have this in mind, you’ll stop caring about being accepted by everyone around you and you’ll begin to feel freer. Face the fear of criticism and just be yourself. People have their own opinions and they shouldn’t affect your life.

Visualize yourself in different situations

If you know that it’s hard for you to say no, visualize yourself in a situation where you have no other choice but to do so. If you know someone’s going to ask for something, try to picture your future response. You’ll feel much more relaxed once you keep your possible answer in mind. However, it’s important that you remember that things don’t always go the way we plan, so just be prepared to be honest.

Don’t explain yourself so much

You don’t have to justify yourself when you say no. When you learn to say no, you start to realize that the most important thing is being honest, fair, and respectful towards others. A simple “I just don’t feel like it” is more than enough.

It’s not uncommon for us to feel overwhelmed by our thoughts from time to time. For example: “What am I going to say?”, “What should be my excuse?”, or “I can’t just say ‘no'”. Our head starts spinning and we begin to overthink what’s going to happen, which makes us feel distressed.

However, you don’t need to think this through so much. It’s true that sometimes you may need to explain why you’re saying no. However, the important thing is that you don’t feel bad about it. The only thing you gain by overthinking things is becoming anxious.

“It’s only by saying “no” that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.”

-Steve Jobs-

Start to love yourself

When the only thing we do is please people, we get used to doing things we wouldn’t even do for ourselves in the first place. Learn to love yourself and you’ll learn to say no. Start doing things you enjoy instead of going out of your way to make others happy. Why take such good care of others when you don’t even feel good about yourself?

It's necessary to learn to say no to the people around you.

Don’t show that you’re available all the time

If you make it seem like you’re always available, people are going to take advantage of you. Don’t be afraid of rejecting proposals you dislike or just saying you’re busy at the moment. Another way you can get out of things is by not paying attention to other’s demands. You don’t have to say anything at all in response. Remember that being silent is also a way of communicating. Sooner or later, they’ll realize you’re not always going to be there to please them.

Love yourself: You don’t need other people’s approval

Keep in mind that it’s impossible to be liked by everyone. Once you realize this, you’ll feel more relieved and you won’t care about other people’s opinions.

There’s a popular quote by Christian Nestell Bovee that says: “Our first and last love is self-love”. Don’t forget it! You’re the most important person in your life and if you don’t take care of yourself, no one else will do it for you.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.