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It’s OK to Say No
Hands up who needs to be reminded of this? Believe me, you can’t see it, but my hand is definitely up! All the way up. I’m waving. And there’s a neon sign flashing above my head.
I am one of those people who doesn’t like to let people down. The thought that I might upset someone often triggers my anxiety, so I try to avoid it at all costs. Unfortunately, the cost is usually having to do something I don’t want to do. Or agreeing to do something I don’t want to do and having to think of a good enough excuse (read: lie) to get out of it later. Which also triggers my anxiety. Anxiety is funny that way.
You might have read my open letter to all the friends I’ve let down, where I talked about some of the lies I’ve told to get out of things I originally agreed to, even though I knew I probably wouldn’t be able to do it. It would be so much easier if I could just say “no, thank you” in the first place.
I’m making a real effort to be more honest with people
Even if it’s difficult. I’m trying to remind myself that it’s OK to say no. If I don’t think I can do something – or, more importantly, if I don’t want to do it – the world won’t end if I say “no, thank you”. Most likely, the people I’m saying no to won’t be offended. They might not even care. If they’re friends or family, they’ll love and support me anyway. If they don’t, they’re not really friends. And strangers..? Who cares what they think? Well… I do. But I’m trying not to. Or, at least, I’m trying to care a bit less.
Too much of my anxiety is caused by worrying about what other people think. I spend too much time worrying about what people will think, if I’m honest about how I’m feeling. So I’m trying to stop doing that. I’m trying to put my own needs first sometimes.
How often do you put the feelings of others ahead of your own?
Probably all the time, right? Me, too. Why do we do that? I mean, I know there are times when we have to. But how often does that truly happen? How often do we do it just because it’s easier? Or because we’re worried about what people will think of us, if we don’t?
It’s OK to say no. It really is. I promise. It’s OK to put yourself first sometimes. In fact, it’s absolutely necessary, for the sake of your mental health. You don’t have to do things just because someone else wants you to. It’s your life. You don’t have to live it for other people. Not even people you love and care about very much. You can love and care about them, while still taking care of yourself. I promise you that, if you take care of yourself, you’ll be even better able to take care of others. It’s the whole “fitting your own oxygen mask first” thing.
Something big happened this week
A friend invited me to a Halloween party and I told her I couldn’t go, because a party full of people I don’t know, in costumes, would be too much of an anxiety trigger for me. I spent a couple of weeks worrying about telling her… trying to think of an excuse. Something I could say, other than the truth. Which, by the way, is what I did last year (if you’re reading this… sorry, hun). But I couldn’t think of anything she wouldn’t see through, so I just said “no, thank you” and told her the truth instead. Guess what happened? Nothing. Actually, she said “that’s fine! let’s catch up soon!”
The world did not end. My friend doesn’t hate me. And I know she’ll still invite me next year, because she’s my friend, even if I might not be able to go to that one either.
So, believe me – it’s OK to say no
Do yourself a favour and try it the next time someone asks you to do something you don’t want to do. You’ll be surprised how good it feels!