Since we are born we are told “no” quite a few times. We are too little to understand that when parents say “no” due to different reasons, most of the times is for our own benefit and safety. When we are young we have a limited perspective regarding what’s good and healthy for us and what’s not. Our parents/carers take the responsibility to teach us that and show us that our choices have consequences. It’s like crossing the street: if you don’t look right or left, you might get hit by a car. But if you make the conscious choice of looking right or left, you might protect your life and even save it.
We grow and become teenagers. Saying “no” at this stage is the last thing we want to hear. We desire freedom: freedom of speech, freedom of choice, freedom of any consequences that might follow our bad decisions. Little do we know that saying “no” is in fact a healthy thing that helps, encourages and supports are personal growth. It is seen as restrictive and authoritarian, but if you take a closer look, it’s not. We become so used to saying “yes” that saying “no” looks like the enemy when it’s actually not.
Saying “no” plays a major role in protecting ourselves and setting healthy boundaries around us. “No” becomes a line drawn around ourselves to let people know what’s OK and what’s not OK, according to our life principles and values. When people break these boundaries, we get upset and feel the need to fight back and point at them saying: “These are important to me. Please, respect them”.
Too many times when we set boundaries people find it difficult to respect them for the simple fact they don’t have boundaries for themselves and don’t really understand the concept of it. They tend to judge and label you as being “selfish”, “harsh” even “mean” and “inconsiderate”. They can’t go beyond you saying “no” and see the bigger picture and the fact that you have your own right to reject and accept things for yourself according to your own values.
It’s time to change our perspective. Saying “no” is healthy. It means I value myself too much to violate my rights and needs in favour of others. Yes, I am an advocate of supporting, encouraging, offering help to people but I also advocate for becoming healthy individuals with healthy boundaries which will contribute to our maturity and personal growth, not to mention our own wellbeing. We tend to respect more people that are able to say “no” and value themselves, people that are so confident in their identity that they know they don’t need to prove anything to those around them. They trust themselves with having the wisdom to make right choices and when that fails them, they have mentors or close friends that can support and tell them what they did wrong in a kind way which will give them courage to continue on their journey.
Say “no” when you have to. It’s not bad nor mean to do so. It sets healthy boundaries between you and the world. And that will improve your overall life and sense of happiness.