Getting comfortable with saying no again

 It’s time you learn to say “no,” even in the most uncomfortable circumstances. 

@bsarahhelen on Instagram 

It’s time you learn to say “no,” even in the most uncomfortable circumstances. 

Niomi Nunez, Features & Lifestyle Editor

Everyone could learn a lot about setting boundaries from 2-year-olds. The word “no” comes so naturally to toddlers. Somewhere along the journey of life, people might forget all about the importance of confidently saying “no.” Some odd number of years later they might find themselves in your shoes, involuntarily saying yes to their messy laundry detergent thief of a college roommate. While walking to pick up new laundry detergent, they will call their parents to complain about their wasteful roommate, and in return their parents will ask, “Well, why did you say yes?” 

Many people are taught that saying no is rude or unnecessary, and from this, a whole generation of people pleasers is born and setting boundaries becomes a lost art. In some instances, saying no can be disrespectful—like saying no to someone who is politely asking for help when you are more than able to assist them. That is different from saying no to someone who has been or is planning to take advantage of you in any way.  

Setting healthy boundaries in any relationship will take a lot more than just saying yes or no but learning how to effectively reject the things that make you exceedingly uncomfortable or frustrated is a step in the right direction. Excluding the very extreme and rare cases, saying no is not going to kill you; in some metaphorical sense saying no will only kill the old fearful version of you. Sounds liberating, right?  

Give it a try with this complex and specific hypothetical situation: You just got a new job at this local arcade. You work a late shift because you take classes during the day. Your co-workers are kind to you apart from this one person, Pete. A lot of the other employees tried to warn you about Pete’s antics, but you remember your mother’s go-to speech about giving everybody a chance. You try being friendly with Pete and he immediately asks you to cover his shift Friday night and you say yes. After covering his shift, you see him coming out of the movie theatre with a group of friends. You choose not to say anything when you see him the following week. Pete begins asking you very personal questions that upset you; he also asks you to cover his shift for three Fridays in a row. Your boss does not seem to care. What do you do? 

Say no. It is as simple as that. Take those emotions and reactions you experienced while reading that hypothetical situation and apply them to your everyday life. Say no to that invasive peer, to that roommate that is not being considerate and to that co-worker that takes advantage of your kindness. Set boundaries that everyone can benefit from.  

How to set boundaries:  

Step one: Identify what lines are being crossed.  

Step two: Say “no” and give an explanation if needed.  

Step three: Feel like a 2-year-old again. If a 2-year-old can say “no”— without having a reason to do so most times—then you can too.