5 Reasons to Say No for Better Mental Health

Are you a yes person? Is it creating problems in your life? It would help if you learned to say no and understand that it is OK to say you can’t or won’t. Saying no is your right as an individual, and for good mental health, you need to make sure you are looking after yourself.

(This is part of my free CBT resource)

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1. Demands at Home and Work

We all have the ability to take on too much, and then this leads to stress, whether in the workplace or at home. It is unhealthy to keep saying yes all the time to demands placed upon you, and you need to say no for better mental health.

There are obviously certain circumstances where we have to say yes, like when we have a skill and another is in desperate need of it to help them out. I am talking about the obligations we place upon ourselves, which are unnecessary and impact us to the extent we feel stress every time someone asks us to do something.

Feeling obligated to do something can lead to frustrations and resentment because it is not what we wanted to do. For example, you had planned a day out by yourself taking photos of nature, but then someone else wants to join, which is not what you had planned. You may feel guilt and then back down, and instead of saying no, you say yes. You go out together, and you resent the whole experience when it would have been better for you to say no.

2. Self-Sacrifice Just Say No

say no workplace stress

In the above example, you self-sacrificed your needs and placed the needs of the other above your own. Now, this may appear to be an honourable thing, but what if you just needed to be by yourself and clear your head. You now have two extra problems; the stress you needed to clear has built up because you have created resentment in your mind about the experience, and then this, in turn, affects how you see the person you were with. You may even begin to resent them.

If you had said no, you would have cleared your mind and not added stress to it.

You may think saying no is selfish, but it isn’t. It is a positive way of dealing with the stresses and strains of everyday life. If you can’t function correctly and go downhill, then you are of no help to anyone. To say no is to be positively selfish.

3. What I mean by Positively Selfish

Selfish has connotations of someone who does things only for themselves to the detriment of others. But being positively selfish is about doing things for you, so you are healthy and happy, but you do not do it on purpose to hurt another individual. Being positively selfish means, you can look after your own wellbeing and help other people when you want to, not because you feel guilty or are self-sacrificing.

If you don’t look after yourself, you will become downtrodden full of bitterness and recrimination, leading to physical and mental problems. It would help if you looked at your needs first. Everything begins with you, your decision to say yes or to say no.

You have to be the adult in the situation, not the child when someone asks or requests something of you. Adults are responsible for their own decision-making process and will not be forced into a situation through the guilt of manipulative tactics. An adult will say no for the right reasons and not just be difficult or offensive. A child might say no to be pedantic, but an adult will know if it is good for them or not; you as an adult need to make your own mental health a priority as no one else will.

4. Saying No As An Adult

say no work piling in

In psychology, there is a model called the child, the adult and the parent. At all times, you want to be the adult; if you are a child, you will be walked over; if you are the parent, you will be dominant; if you are the adult, you will be balanced and not swayed into things by others acting like a child or a parent towards you. At first, when you start saying no, people may be shocked at your turnaround as you are behaving in a fashion they are not used to, and so how they see you will change.

If, for example, your partner is dominant and you suddenly start making decisions for yourself, this will result in conflict on their part as they will not be able to tell you what to do. Their dominance may have forced you into the child role in the relationship where you are always at the whims and fancies of your partner. This is a form of martyrdom and is very unhealthy.

Based on the situation, being an adult chooses when to say no and when to say yes. If you are in a one-sided relationship, you will need to work through the things you are saying yes to, which may make you feel uncomfortable at first. You will need to work on your self which is positive selfishness. This way, you will be able to say no, mean it and not be swayed by manipulation.

It could be you are the dominant partner and you ‘mother’ your family to the extent it is exhausting you. You may feel you have to do everything for them as they couldn’t cope without you doing all that you do. This is another form of martyrdom; you are still sacrificing your own needs for their needs, resulting in resentfulness and stress, which will lead to poor mental health.

[AF] If you need therapy to work out problems within relationships, I recommend Online Therapy; they offer cognitive behavioural therapy and help you with their professional team of CBT therapists.

5. Self-Care and Balance

Avoiding being a martyr and moving into an adult state of existence does not happen overnight. After reading this article, you may be wondering how you have managed to end up in this position. Sometimes we sleepwalk into it, and other times we are forced into it by certain people and situations.

But by saying no, you can turn things around. I wrote an article called no regrets, which probably sounds the exact opposite of this article as it is about saying yes, but it is the yeses to ourselves, not to others which counts.

We have to focus on ourselves first; then, we can be of benefit to others. If your boss is piling work on your desk because you have always said yes, then having a discussion and saying it is not beneficial for you to harbour the majority of the workload will move you towards a more balanced work-life.

Everything is about balance, which equates to being adults responsible for their own decision-making process and not thrust upon others. You can say no and not be selfish.

In Summary

There may be food for thought in this article for things you need to work on, and it will not happen overnight. Change takes time, and you may discover that saying no to the easy things at first will be best for you, and then you move up to the bigger things. But one thing will develop out of changing your yes to no; you will increase self-confidence and self-esteem as you will be adulting rather than a martyr.

I wish you all the best on your journey, and try saying no the next time someone asks you to do something you do not want to do; it is easy to say, and the benefits to your mental health are great.

Peace & Blessings


5 Replies to “5 Reasons to Say No for Better Mental Health”

  1. Good post! It’s important to set boundaries and be brave enough to say no. Saying no doesn’t make us a bad person even tho there will be some people who immediately declare that they hate us for saying no. Hmm….but who cares. Self-love and respect is so important.

  2. Hello Lou! I love this post so much. The importance of saying no can really never be overemphasized. These are amazing reasons to say no. I always say no whenever I don’t feel like doing something. I make sure to do everything I do for my happiness. In the end, my mental health matters. Saying no is a crucial part of self love. Also, saying yes all the time doesn’t mean everyone would love you. Thank you for sharing. x

  3. I really need to learn to say no more often. I feel like stress is at the root of all my probems, as well as anxiety so saying no would give me a bit of an emotional break! Love the post x

  4. Saying no has always been a challenge for me, and this post has given me a chance to rethink my strategy when it comes to pleasing others before me. Stress is definitely a big issue, so I took a step back from what was at the root of it.

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