How To Say No & Not Feel Guilty!

Hi all! 

Today I wish to discuss a topic that is vital for our self-care. Saying No. It took me a long time to become comfortable uttering that one word without feeling guilty but as they say, practice makes perfect. It does not matter whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, it is very important to learn how, when and what to say no to. It’s no secret we live in a fast-paced world filled with the dreaded feelings of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), making it much harder for us to decline social invitations and events. What we don’t realise is, we have much more to gain and less to lose when we put our emotional and physical needs first. I hope this post is helpful and informative. 

Before I learnt that I was an introvert and a HSP (The Highly Sensitive Person), I chided myself for being uncomfortable in social situations. I wanted to enjoy going out to nightclubs and bars (like the rest of my friends) but I just couldn’t. Even at University, when I was ‘supposed’ to be going wild, I felt happiest being alone. I would sigh with relief after a long night out. I felt like there was something seriously wrong with me. In the last five years, I have learnt that I am most comfortable in simple, non-stimulating environments. A dinner with a friend or a walk in nature is the key to my heart. Shopping centres, bright lights and loud noises have the tendency to overwhelm me. They make me extremely anxious. Understanding ourselves makes open and honest communication with others essential. I’m no longer afraid to tell my friends that I would rather meet them for lunch rather than dinner in a noisy bar. I’m not scared to leave an event early if it starts to take a toll on my senses. I put myself first without apology. This may seem easier said than done but if your friends truly love you, they will want you to be relaxed, not on edge. Learn to compromise and saying no will become much simpler, especially when your friends can see you’re willing to meet them halfway.  

Photo taken by my talented friend Mabel Kwong

 If you’re an extrovert, you may find that you are constantly on the go and struggling with work/life balance. Don’t forget, there are only 24 hours in a day and you are only one person. If you give and give and give, you will find yourself eventually burning out and unable to deal with the everyday. Even if you’re the life of the party, it’s incredibly important to set aside at least 30 minutes in your day, just for you. If that means pushing back a social engagement or just declining altogether, so be it. Learning to enjoy your own company and making time for yourself is such a valuable thing to do mentally, spiritually and physically. You don’t have to say no to everything, just start slowly and work from there. There is a really great quote from Oprah I wish to share: 

“Before you agree to do anything that might add even the smallest amount of stress to your life, ask yourself: what is my truest intention? Give yourself time to let a YES resound within you. When it’s right, I guarantee that your entire body will feel it.” 

If you’re asked to attend an event and the answer is a resounding YES, don’t deny yourself from it. That would just be doing yourself a disservice. If it doesn’t spark any sort of excitement within you, but you feel obligated or worried that you are letting somebody down, I would say no. By saying yes, you are only placing yourself in a situation that you secretly wish to get away from. Use your time effectively and meaningfully. You could either spend your Friday night at a party that you really don’t want to be at or soaking in a bubble-bath at home, relaxing your muscles and soothing your soul after a long week. Of course, the event itself is circumstantial. It is much harder to say no to a wedding or a milestone birthday but if it’s just a random night out, push the guilt aside. The bar down the street will still be there next week and so will your friends. Learn to listen to your intuition and choose where you want to place your energy.

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Photo taken by my talented friend Mabel Kwong

Finally, sometimes life forces us to say no and there is nothing we can do about it, so guilt be damned! Next month our first child is due which is going to mean sleepless nights and lots of time/commitment. We are also operating on one income now, so we no longer have the luxury of splurging whenever we feel like it. There are going to be many things we have to say no to due to our new life circumstances. That is just the way with a newborn. At first, I felt guilty at the thought of asking others to come and visit as opposed to us being able to do so at the drop of a hat. I also felt bad that this Christmas, we will not be able to buy better quality gifts, but then I realised that achieved nothing. The right people will understand. What is more important than raising a child? We will make it work just like everybody else has done since the beginning of time. Feeling guilty in the face of self-care is so unnecessary. Be kind to yourself. 

If you have any tips for saying no, please let me know down below. There is nothing wrong with taking care of yourself. You are the most important person in your life. When you are at your best, everybody else will get the best of you. Thank you for reading. 

Peace & Love xoxo 

3 thoughts

  1. This was such a bold post to write, and such an emphatic one too. I love how you say it and this is such a great quote: ‘Feeling guilty in the face of self-care is so unnecessary. Be kind to yourself.’ So true that we don’t need to say yes to everything and most of the time there is another time to do the things you’ve missed. Sure, milestone events like birthdays and weddings can be harder to say no to but if we really don’t feel up to it, then we don’t. Even then there is always another time to catch up still. For me, it’s not about when and where you catch up, but the WANT (in other words, desire) to spend time with others and spend it honestly with them because you simply want to. That’s how I treat my relationships, both platonic and romantic. And as you said, the right people will understand.

    I think to say no you just have to say no. You don’t feel like it, you don’t and simple as that. No need to make other excuses. Some people might think that’s quite direct, fair enough and oh well :/ In the past I’ve constantly said no to friends who want to catch up and just have had to say no, even when they very nicely ask me out a few times in a row. Sometimes I had things to do, other times I just needed alone time. Fortunately the friends I have like you understand and see it as part of me as a person 🙂 The only times I don’t mind having noisy and stimulating nights out are gigs – and I could do them every night to be honest especially if they are concerts that I look forward to. That said one time I was out at a gig with a friend and didn’t feel like it, and at 11pm said had to go home. My friend was quite mad at that time but we are still good friends today XD

    Thank you for writing this and for sharing such an important message. Also thank you for sharing the photos and the shout out. Cannot wait to see you soon my friend xxx

    1. Thank you my friend I’m so glad you enjoyed this post. I knew you would be able to relate to it. It’s great that you operate from a place of want. That’s how I am as well. If I want to spend time with a friend it means so much more especially being an overstimulated introvert. It’s great that you have understanding friends and can communicate honestly. I’m excited to see you soon xxx

      1. Hard to tell you ever feel overstimulated because you always seem so calm – which means you are taking care of yourself. Also you are one my understanding friends my friend. Cannot wait to see you 😊

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