Small Steps #14 – Set Boundaries – Say “No”

"Yes" changed to "No" Small Steps #14: Set boundaries. Say no to things you don't want to do.


“No" is a complete sentence.

Have you ever noticed that people only want you to explain yourself when you tell them “No” to something? People rarely argue with you if you agree with them or allow them what they want.


Person A: Can you buy me lunch today?

You: No.

Person A: Why not? You can afford to cover me. I only asked twice this week. Come on, man. Be a good friend and do me this favor.

If asserting yourself to deny a request has been difficult, then you probably feel obligated to give an explanation or feel pressured to give in to the demand. There are a few times where you may be able to say no with more ease. This is usually because there’s a good chance that you’ll get injured, you don’t have the means, it’s something most people would turn away, or it’s something that goes against something you strongly value and protect.

The areas in which someone may take advantage of you are those that can be used for guilt to accuse you of “not caring” about them, “being selfish,” or something else. The person doesn’t see or acknowledge that they are betting on your kind heart to allow them to take advantage of you.

One of the reasons you are prone to giving in is because you disliked past behavior that came if you said “No.” The person may have talked under his breath, compared you to an unfavorable ex, ignored you, or threatened to “get even” with you in the future. These were done on multiple occasions, so turning the person away became more difficult.

If you tend to want to please people or find ways to compromise, standing your ground to deny someone something can be even more intimidating. Being direct does not come easily for everyone, but allowing someone to walk over you repeatedly can cause long-term problems.

Create Boundaries. Practice saying “No.”

Agreeing to do something for someone that you do not wish to do isn’t always because a person is manipulating you. It could be that you don’t know how to create a healthy boundary. You take on more than you can comfortably manage and feel a sense of obligation to carry more weight or to do something you have no desire to do. Being the dependable “go-to” person who takes on every assignment can backfire on you if you aren’t being selective.

Here are a few reasons to start:

  • You aren’t angry at yourself later. This can last from the time the question is asked until long after you’ve completed the task.
  • You can weed out those who only deal with you when it benefits them.
  • Your confidence builds as you begin to trust your decisions and take control of your life.
  • You can maintain a healthy work-life balance.
  • You help others learn to respect your time and voice.
  • You can stay true to what you value.

In order to get others to respect your boundaries, you must respect them first.


Additional resources:

“How to Stop Feeling Guilty for Saying No | 6 Tips for Saying No.” Rashawnda James. June 15, 2018.

Guha, Ahona. “How (And Why) to Say No.” Psychology Today. May 6, 2021.

“Are You a People Pleaser?”

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