Learning To Say "NO" And Why It's Important

Did you know that it's okay to say "no" without feeling guilty, mean, or selfish? You didn't? Funny! Neither did I up until recently. Most of my life has been a series of events that aren't particularly alluring to me in any way. Pathetic, right? You're probably asking yourself, "How is this woman in her mid 20's racking up a lifetime of memories that she's not fond of?" Well, the answer is simple, really. Most of my life has been lived in fear. Fear of letting people down. Fear of disappointing people. Fear of people getting mad at me. I'm not a people pleaser if that's what you're thinking. None of us really are. We just have a fear of saying "no."

For some reason, there are certain people, such as myself, that have associated saying "no" to emotions such as guilt and because of that we fear disappointing the people that mean the most to us. And while we're busy "people pleasing" our way through the world, we have stopped pleasing the most important person of all: ourselves. Somewhere along the way, people like you and me have associated guilt with saying "no" and because of that, we have conditioned ourselves to believe that other people deserve more from us than we are willing to give to ourselves. And this way of thinking strongly goes against any self-love quote I've ever read.

So, for someone as old as I am- yes, I lied earlier. I am not in my mid-20's. I have officially past the mid-20's marker and am currently wobbling my way closer to 30 than I am 25 these days. And so, from great intellect and wisdom that only comes with old age (JK), I have learned the importance of saying "no."-

1. For me, saying "no" always came with emotional baggage. One that was too heavy for me to carry around. I hated feeling guilty and fearful of a friend getting mad at me for not going somewhere or doing something they wanted to do. So, instead of saying "no" I went to the club at 2 a.m. and hung out in an atmosphere that gave me anxiety. I could have spent those nights truly enjoying myself with a good book or a rerun of Harry Potter. Now, I look back and think how long it took me to really find myself because I was doing things I didn't want to do. All because I was fearful of saying "no." 

2. Something that I have found common amongst the people I know is the need to explain themselves after they have already said "no." To me, this is worse than being afraid of saying "no" in general. If you have the courage to say "no" to someone, to anyone, don't back down. Say "no" and simply leave it at that. You don't owe anything to anyone. Your reason for saying "no" is your personal business and no one else's.

3. Saying "no" doesn't just mean saying "no" to doing things you don't want to do. It means saying "no" when you don't have the time to listen to someone vent or complain. Saying "no" can have everything to do with you needing personal time and nothing to do with you being selfish. If you don't have the time in your day to listen to someone vent about something because you're emotionally drained from work, that's okay. Your friend can wait. As harsh as that sounds. Your emotional struggles are just as important as theirs. 

4. Lastly, I desperately feel the need to cover this topic because it seems these days boys and girls are very confused with what the word "no" means and when and how they should use it. If you are getting physical with someone and you don't want to go beyond a pop kiss, say "no" and walk the f*ck away. Your right to not want to engage in any kind of sexual activity is your personal choice. If there is ever a time to say "no" it's when you are not comfortable or ready to engage in any kind of sexual activity- even if that means hand holding. 

The power of saying "no" is a remarkable one. It shows you the people who truly care about you and your wants and needs. I've found that if a friend or a loved one is unable to accept my "no" and/or my explanation that comes along with it, then I really can't care too much if they get mad at me. My reason for saying "no" is important to me and how I'm feeling. Even if that means missing a birthday dinner or your grandmother's funeral. Maybe I'm not okay with death or maybe I can't afford the restaurant you're going to. Sure, people can come up with excuses and tell you to order an appetizer instead of a full meal to save money or they can even make you feel guilty about not caring about the loss of their grandmother when in reality maybe funerals trigger the death of someone special to you. And this goes both ways. We can't expect people not to get angry with us when we say "no" but then turn around and get angry with them when they do. That's not fair at all, is it? No. Love and relationships are all about compromise, understanding, and patience. And we need to give that in order to receive it. And if we're not receiving it, it's time to walk away because your happiness is a very personal thing and it has nothing to do with anyone else. 

Brittany Priore