I’m telling you this as a former “over-giver.” I over-gave myself to people, their needs and wants. I was easily accessible to everyone. I was willing to bend, conform, and give freely of myself so that they others were happy. I was supposed to be readily available to give my time, resources, knowledge, wisdom at everyone’s beck and call. Even in my worst mental state, I was still expected to say yes and give and give. So, I shrunk myself down and was that go-to-girl, the yes girl. I didn’t want to say no to anyone, saying no was mean and selfish, wasn’t it?
Wrong. I had to learn it is okay to be selfish. Being selfish for the right reasons is a form of self-preservation, an act of self-love. You should learn how to set healthy limits and boundaries for people so that you are not easily drained. You deserve to be healthy and full. And saying NO, quickly helped me fill myself up again.
• NO, I’m not doing that right now.
• NO, I don’t want to. (No explanation needed).
• NO, I can’t.
• NO, I won’t.
• NO, I don’t want to go out tonight.
• NO, I don’t want to work your shift.
• NO, I don’t want to come in on my day off.
• NO, sorry I don’t know the answer.
Learning how to put yourself first and tell people no is a process, but with firm kindness and the courage to stand in your decision, it’ll become second nature to you. Yes, you can say no in a respectful way. It’s an essential practice that all adults must master at some point in our lives. We belong to ourselves and in that powerful statement comes the responsibility of taking care of ourselves. Our bodies, our minds, our emotions, our hearts. Saying NO when you don’t want to do something protects all those parts of ourselves that are supposed to be protected. When we don’t protect those parts, when you continuously give up a piece of yourself, even in the moments that you don’t want to, people can sense that they can take advantage. They will continue to take repeatedly. This becomes a vicious cycle. You become drained, bitter, and ultimately anger. Break the cycle by saying NO when someone asks something of you that you do not want to give or do.
When you start saying NO, that is a complete sentence. You don’t back down from it. There is no compromising. People must accept this. Don’t let them guilt-trip you into changing because they will especially close family and friends. You might even feel guilty yourself after setting your boundaries, but guilt will be turned into growth. You’re going to see how people have a new respect for you, how they’ll honor you and ask/demand less of you when you establish that you are putting yourself first always and that can’t be compromised.