The Value in Saying No is Priceless – Setting Healthy Boundaries

Saying no is usually really easy or really difficult, there doesn’t seem to any inbetween. Can you relate? Maybe you are someone that just can’t bear the burden of saying no, all the guilt it makes you feel. Or maybe it’s the fear of not being liked. Perhaps you were raised in an environment by parents, or family members who always thought the best thing to do was to be polite and avoid possibly making others feel bad. Maybe you’ve felt rejected or let down by someone telling you no. Whatever the case may be…

The Value in Saying No

Today I would like to share with you that one simple word can truly change your life forever…the value in saying no is priceless.

At some point in our lives the topic of setting boundaries comes up. Since relationships are a two way street it is easy to allow ourselves to over contribute to the ‘we’ and under contribute to the ‘me’ since most of us are struggling to a greater or lesser degree with knowing how to separate the two.

Many times we find ourselves exhausted, overwhelmed, and confused about our feelings with certain relationships.

Saying No is Rarely Easy or Comfortable

I once had a close friend and coworker that said no to nothing. She attended every possible event whether it be personal or work related. On the outside she appeared to be the most fun, and thoughtful person. A real socialite, and of course people, myself included were drawn to that.

Deep down inside though there was the part of me concerned for her well being. I was training her for a high stress, management position, the same one that I had experienced some serious episodes of burn out with and loss of self to, by getting so wrapped up that I neglected my self care.

I knew the feeling all too well, and I could see the flashing red lights of approaching danger all around her. On occasion, when she appeared short or stressed I would inquire if everything was okay. Her answer was always the same…“I’m fine.”

Until the one day that she simply couldn’t do it all, or be all things to all people anymore. Her pent up emotions released that day and she said some hurtful things that couldn’t be taken back.

It was our last week together as coworkers and my last week in that state as we moved shortly after. It was an awful circumstance to leave under and we have not been in touch since. Although I was hurt in the moment I wholeheartedly believe in the power of forgiveness.

The Value in Saying No-Emotions

I share this personal story not to discredit anyone or say poor me but to illustrate some of the after effects that take place when we don’t say no to things that are overwhelming and drain our energy.

In the past I have struggled with this issue myself until I learned how to take better care of myself.

On occasion when an episode occurs (we are human, right?!) now I recognize what is happening and become aware that it’s time to reconnect with myself and reassess my self care habits.

I once got a Yogi tea bag that read “Recognize that the other person is you.” So true…we’re all constantly learning and fine tuning our skills and for that we deserve compassion.

In certain situations before we know it our emotions get off center, anger and frustration set in, and unleash onto those around us. It is neither personal nor intentional, it’s the aftermath of being human, our own self neglect, and lack of self compassion as a result of not setting healthy boundaries for ourselves.

It’s Okay to Say No

Have you ever wondered why we feel guilty when we say no in the first place?

We live in a society where much emphasis is put on politeness. From an early age as children our parents instill in us the importance of having manners. Part of saying yes is being a nice and caring person right?

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but can be if we haven’t been taught that saying no is equally important, and certainly not an act of selfishness.

Maybe we fear losing acceptance, approval, or love of others if we say no. This can happen if we are always looking outside ourselves, to others for acknowledgement and validation therefore making us more likely to say yes when it isn’t healthy for us.

The Value in Saying No-Prevent Self Defeat

For most of us saying no is definitely not easy, in fact it takes a great measure of courage. The thought of possibly losing another person’s approval by saying no is a real fear but does not measure up to losing ourselves, or the respect of others by constantly saying yes to everything.

Would you rather have the courage to take a positive step toward practicing more self care by choosing to say no or choose for your self not to exist (literally…think about the term) by being selfless and saying yes to everything?

Don’t succumb to being a pushover. Self sabotage is not a good feeling.

A Little Discomfort is Worth Healthy Boundaries

Saying no may seem like an overwhelming task in itself, but it’s just not realistically possible to say yes to everything and I assure you that like learning anything new, it really just takes practice. If setting boundaries has been difficult in the past it may seem like a daunting or even unattainable task.

In that case, start slowly. Start exercising your ability by saying no to simple less threatening situations first.

Start easy with things like:

Tell a friend that is offering you some kitchenware, thank you for considering me but I don’t have room right now.

Tell a coworker you will not be making a company function.

Tell the cashier it’s just not possible for you to make a donation today.

Tell the teller you would rather not open a line of credit even if it is free, thank you.

These may sound like simple things to say no to but you’d be surprised at how many people find it difficult to do so. Practice saying no to small things and in time you will notice that your persistent practice will bring success which is just the motivation you need to continue to build upon the skill.

As you grow so will your confidence to say no in all types of situations. When contemplating whether to say yes or no keep this thought in mind:

If saying yes is going to deplete you physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, or financially then just say no.

Don’t forget to prioritize things that are important for your health, happiness, and emotional well being and revisit them often to make adjustments as life changes.

As you gain a firm grasp on your personal priorities and convictions and how great it feels to fulfill them the ability to say no to people and things that no longer serve you becomes much more natural. Once you clear that space you create even more space to say yes to the things that truly matter.


  1. Scott

    Hi Jess,
    That was a great article on how to say No.
    I understand the problem I did ok with everyone but my brother who eventually I had to say No to before he broke me.

    1. Jess

      Thanks for sharing your experience Scott. I totally understand, it can be especially difficult to say no when dealing with a family member or someone very close to you that you really care a lot about. I have been in similar situations with family members and always approach from the angle of wanting to make sure everyone is okay (especially being the oldest). Pat yourself on the back for having the courage to finally say no. If your brother doesn’t already, he will only respect you for not enabling him, in the end you helped him to grow. Not always easy to accept, but true :)

  2. Nicolas Ganea

    I loved this article! For me I related to this way too much, before I used to say yes to everything just because I love to learn new things. sometimes I said yes to things I found really boring and made me mad I actually exploded in 2 situations one was was over something stupid and lucky my mates were understanding. 2nd one was also even luckier the chef told me to add more salt every time to this green pea soup previous nights the customers would complain it’s too salt and I would say this under my breath I bloody that, thats what the chef(Jason Franey) wants….. So I seasoned again, again and again after the 5th times I blew! I said ; NO!!! I walked away off the line. The chef ( Jason Franey) followed me and he replied; “What’s the problem?!” I said “This f&%#ing soup sucks, I hate this soup! he replied again; ” What do you me you hate this soup?” I said; ” This soup tastes like s%#t. mind you this was in front of a kitchen staff of 24 people. the chef said; if I didn’t f$%ing need you I would send you right home! I’ll tell you this get back on that line.” If it wasn’t because I was respected in my kitchen, I know I would be screwed. he told me to vent to someone or even vent to him if I don’t like something say it otherwise no one will know, saying yes to everything tell me you have no opinion. along the same lines of this article, if you don’t vent this can happen to someone close or your girlfriend or wife vice versa.

    1. Jess

      I’m so glad this article was helpful for you Nicolas. Thank you for sharing your experience, plenty of people have found themselves in similar situations and can relate. I believe that all of our experiences good and bad are necessary, lessons along the way that teach us, shape our characters as individuals, and hopefully help us to continue growing. Great to hear that you get the value of speaking out with your opinions even if others may not like it or accept it. It is crucial for a healthy emotional state. Keep up the courage and good work :)

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