The Importance of Saying ‘No’

As far back as I can remember, I’ve always been a people pleaser. It’s good to say ‘yes’, it’s polite to say ‘yes’, it’s fun to say ‘yes’. That’s the weird mantra that I’ve always seemed to live by – and although saying ‘yes’ can lead to a more positive existence that opens up a lot of doors, it can also be extremely damaging.

Being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease is like having someone steal all your ‘yes’ power and ration you with a certain number a day. Whilst internally you might still want to be that ‘hell yeah’ individual, the motive gets caught in a tangled web of anxiety, exhaustion and defeatism.

I’ve always been scared of turning down plans, for fear of being called ‘flakey’. On so many occasions, I have agreed to do things in order to please others, forgetting how important it actually is to please myself, too. Why do we give so much credit to the judgement of others?

What I’ve learnt over the last year is the importance of saying ‘no’. The connotations of the word ‘no’ are always negative – ‘no’ people are moody, ‘no’ people are party poopers, ‘no’ people have no fun. That’s what I used to think too – we are conditioned from an early age that ‘no means no’, and it is often associated with something that you should not or could not do.

Luckily, social media has recently given the subject of ‘self care’ it’s 15minutes of fame, although I hope that we can all enjoy the repercussions of this awareness of ourselves for more than 15minutes. What this has done is open up a conversation of looking after yourself in a way that is free from feeling self-indulgent.

Self-care is such an important topic right now, as it highlights the simple but essential task of taking care of yourself. This is a crucial skill for anyone to learn, and an even more necessary task for those suffering with an illness. Whether ‘self-care’ means attending your appointment, meeting a friend for coffee, taking a long bubble bath or cooking yourself your favourite meal, self-care is about using your energy in a way where the only end-goal is to allow you to re-connect with your mind, body and soul.

‘The secret to happiness is freedom. And the secret to freedom is courage.’ – Thucydides 

You genuinely can’t please them all. Nor should you. It can be scary at first to prioritise yourself over others, but sometimes it is important. The importance of saying ‘no’ highlights the importance of you saying ‘yes’ to respecting your body’s needs. It’s the importance of recognising that you need a break, physically, mentally or emotionally. It’s the importance of allowing yourself to make the best decision, not for others, but for yourself.

At the end of the day, if you cannot be truthful with someone for fear of them rejecting you – they’re not someone worth hanging around for anyway.

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