Why Saying ‘No’ Isn’t Selfish


I’m willing to guess that, at some point in your life, you’ve felt a sense of shame or guilt in saying no to family or friends. I went to Instagram and polled the ladies, and everyone who answered yes to feeling guilty for saying no shared that they were afraid that they would let people down, disappoint people, hurt their feelings, and leave people thinking they weren’t dependable. If I’m being honest, I’ve felt this way before too, and here’s what I’ve come to realize as I’ve done some work on myself. 

I believe that love is rooted in giving. When you love something or someone, it makes you give naturally. You give your time, effort, and energy because giving makes you feel good, right? But what happens on the days where you simply have to say no? Does that make you selfish?

I think the art of saying no is learning how to set healthy boundaries

What if I told you that saying no is healthy? What if I told you that saying no isn’t selfish? 

You might be wondering how is it not selfish when I’m talking about myself and putting myself first. 

Let me challenge you with this notion. Ask yourself: “How many times have I shown up for them?”

Every time you say yes when you want to say no, you’re dishonoring yourself at the expense of what people will think of you. Every time you commit to something you do not have the capacity to do, you are robbing yourself of the energy you need to be fully efficient to show up for your life.

So, how exactly do you say no without making them mad?


Be honest and be kind in your approach

The thing is, you are not in control of other people’s emotions. You are, however, in control of your ability to speak your truth and being kind in doing so. How other people interpret your truth is on them, not you.


Express gratitude

Thank them for the opportunity and kindly let them know you’re not in the position to show up. Say something like, “Thank you so much for thinking of me for this; however, this doesn’t align with my goals.”


Suggest alternatives

Depending on what the ask is, suggest alternatives that you are able to commit to. For example: “Thank you for thinking of me, however, I don’t have the capacity to do XYZ this week/month, but I may be able to help out (insert a time that works for you).”

When you speak your truth, people respect that. People who understand healthy boundaries respect that. As women, we want to be all the things for the people we love, and sometimes it’s not always feasible. Saying no allows you to show up for yourself. If you are unable to authentically show up for yourself, how will you authentically show up for the people who need you? So, next time you want to want to say yes out of guilt when you really mean to say no, don’t.  The more you exercise your ability to say no, you’ll find yourself feeling less guilty when you do.