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Learning To Say “No” As Part Of Better Self-Care

There are too many nice people in the world today…or so it might seem, with the number of “yes” folks you run into. As a child, we were raised to be considerate to others, and to accommodate them as much as possible. As adults, we are having to learn self care without guilt as a result.

How do you know exactly when enough is enough? And more importantly, are you saying no to yourself by saying yes to others every time?

These five indicators below are a good start to identifying boundaries and mental health red flags, and when saying “no” might be required.

Feeling Stressed or Overwhelmed

Is self care selfish

Is self-care selfish? Absolutely not. You have to fill your own cup before you can fill anyone else’s.

Not being able to say no can greatly contribute to elevated stress and overwhelmed feelings. Overwhelming feelings can cause or add to chronic stress. People who cannot say no are usually the first to fall victim.

It is important to understand your own boundaries and limitations. While helping others is important, you have to take care of yourself first.

This means sometimes saying no to friends and family is healthy and required, in order to maintain an optimal level of health and wellness for yourself.

Feelings of Obligation

We need boundaries at work too, especially in the remote working environment. Planning and sticking to a schedule can help with this.

This is by far the most common cause of resentment in persons, since they are basically “forced” top say yes whether or not they want to. Maybe the person asking did a major favor for you in life, maybe it is a family member or a dependent.

You feel a sense of obligation to always be on beck and call for whatever that person requests of you, but you need to ask yourself “when is my bill paid in full?” Will you continue to feel a forced sense of obligation forever?

You need to put yourself first, by not taking on more than you really want to handle or deal with out of a place of unrealistic guilt.

This constant obligatory situation builds resentment, and resentment can literally make you physically ill! To avoid these kinds of situations, communicate your needs clearly, honestly and empathetically. After clear communication, if your needs aren’t respected and are met with argument causing self-doubt, it might be time to end the relationship, or take a break until your feeling better and less overwhelmed.

Not Speaking Up

When arguments arise in relationships as a result of healthy boundary setting, seeking counseling or separating might be required to support mental health.

There have undoubtedly been numerous times when you sit quietly while something (or someone) boils your blood to the point of an eruption, yet you show no outward emotions. This can range from a boss berating you in the office, a bully, or a random stranger who finds it appropriate to assert their dominance over you. Holding these situations in, or gossiping about the problem to others instead of communicating the situation directly welcomes stress and low vibrational energy into your life.

By allowing it, you are doing just that, rolling over and assuming the fetal position. Communicate your needs, stand in your self-respect and speak for what you believe in. You can communicate your needs in a polite and strong way, while still leaving an invitation for communication and understanding. If the receiver choses not to acknowledge, you can feel confident in knowing you communicated your needs and left room for understanding.

Enabling Bad Behavior

Not setting boundaries in your relationships shows a lack of respect, not only for yourself but others too. Give people an opportunity to change and learn. If nothing else, you provide an opportunity to salvage the relationship, if they don’t reciprocate, that’s ok. Knowing you did your part builds self-confidence and opens the heart.

It has happened to all of us before, from a kid asking for something over and over, hearing no and slowly breaking you down, to much worse influences on your life such as toxic relationships at work, home or with friends.

When you say no, it needs to stay that way. You will gain infinite respect and your ability to take care of yourself will be looked at as a pillar of strength. Your children will learn by example and will be able to identify when to tell others no, setting the example for healthy relationships earlier in life.

Boundaries can produce earthquakes (literally!) in relationships where they were non-existent. Navigating boundary setting with the people closest to you, can often be the most challenging task. Stress management is a helpful tool when navigating setting boundaries.

Maximize your Self-Care Regimen

Taking time for yourself for reflection and relaxation is a great first step in creating boundaries. Meditation, Reiki, journaling or doing something that you love should be scheduled in weekly for optimal mental health.

Self-care improves mental health, which helps you maximize on your energy to support setting and maintaining healthy boundaries in your life. Each week, I make sure to set aside time for self care Sunday. During this time, I like to journal, and plan out my “Me” time each week. To establish trust and confidence within ourselves, dedicating space to our own healing is necessary. How we spend the time we have alone is important. Be intentional.


Reiki is a practice of channeling universal life force energy. A Japanese relaxation technique provided by an attuned practitioner provides space for relaxation and healing at a cellular level.

NO is not a bad word. It has been criminalized via society and the illusion that things must be ok all the time. You will only end up resenting yourself for being weak, and not ever doing what you want to do by allowing others to always walk over you. You need to look after yourself before you look after anyone else after all, lead by example!


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