Annie Lamott once said, “no is a complete sentence.”
Actually, I think a lot of people have said that, including someone’s grandmother.
If you’ve been surrounded by people who made you explain yourself every time you said “no,” that word might have negative connotations attached to it.
Which can make being selfish feel like a crime.
Here are 8 situations that you might find yourself in often if you have a hard time saying “no.”
1) Everything feels scarce.
A lot of people who aren’t able to say “no” end up feeling the loss the most in their resources. Like their time or money!
As a result you might always feel like you’re on the go and have no time to take care of yourself.
Or like you can’t save up and indulge yourself in luxuries.
Sure, you might feel like you get your joy from giving to others.
But this kind of thinking will lead you to feel like you are in a constant state of chaos.
Which affects your general quality of life by filling your mind with self-limiting beliefs that convince you that your happiness is dependent on others.
Which will lead to burnout because whether you’re aware of it or not, life feels like a burden.
2) Chronic burnout.
This is probably the most important reason why it’s important to take back control over your own time and energy.
As I mentioned, for you to feel connected to your life and feel content, you need self-care. It’s not something you treat yourself with when you feel like you deserve it.
Unless you feel like doing it often.
And it doesn’t have to be anything fancy. It can be something as simple as putting on something comfortable and enjoying a nice meal to yourself.
The key to self-care is to integrate the energy of “worthiness” into all areas of your life.
There will be a period of time if you aren’t used to this where most of your time is spent on rest. And it might feel like you aren’t being productive – which can feel not very nice.
But it’s all a part of the process of hitting reset so you can learn to function in a different way.
3) Feeling guilty as a hobby.
Personally this took the longest to become aware of.
I didn’t realize it wasn’t normal to feel guilty all the time. Because it wasn’t always a conscious thought of “I feel bad about doing X, Y, Z.”
A lot of the time, it was feeling doubtful every time I did something that made me happy.
Or feeling anxious when I didn’t want to do something.
And it would only go away when I’d do something for someone. Like buying them something, or being there for them emotionally.
Even if it came from a place of care, that place had an air of guilt and shame. Which took up so much room that it repressed my discernment and intuition.
Like the ability to ask: are these people I’m investing in able to reciprocate? Do I even like them?
Why do I feel guilty for feeling neutral about people that I need to overcompensate and force myself to love them?
4) Chronic emptiness.
Sometimes, it’s not about consciously wanting to please others that makes us say “yes”.
A lot of people tend to stray from saying no because they don’t know what they want to say “yes” to. So rather than a “no”, it’s a “why not?”
And this lack of self-awareness can cause you to equate your sense of identity in how you relate to others and what you can do for them.
If you find yourself feeling like you don’t have a direction in life, or feel like you aren’t connecting with yourself, try taking some time alone to think about your inner child.
What made you light up as a kid? They are usually the person that understands you the most.
Every child deserves to be protected and listened to – think of yourself as that child the next time you feel like you can’t show yourself compassion.
And reframe the idea of saying “no” as not saying “no” to others, but saying “yes” to yourself.
5) Stuck in limbo.
Not feeling connected to yourself can also affect the way you make decisions in the long run.
If you are constantly allowing your schedule to be dictated by what other people need, you’re going to feel a little lost when you have to make decisions for yourself.
And if you do end up making a decision, you might not feel as confident as you could about them.
To deal with this, you might cope with the feeling of stagnancy by paying attention to solving the problems of others.
That may bring you some satisfaction in the short-term, but if you’re helping everyone but yourself grow, it can be a very lonely experience.
How you can combat this is first by getting used to making decisions that are based in inspiration rather than fear. Alone.
Start small, like making some DIY home decor to express yourself within your space.
And when you feel comfortable, however long that might take, start focusing on seeking people who can reciprocate.
6) Shallow relationships.
Because when you have a hard time keeping balance in your relationships as the overgiver, it can cause you to attract a lot of shallow relationships.
These are the types of relationships where you allow the other person to be vulnerable with you by allowing them to ask you for help.
But because you never allow them to do the same, you never let anyone to truly know you.
You might feel a connection to them because you care deeply for them. And in some cases, that sentiment is reciprocated.
However, if both parties don’t share the same effort or make time for the other, the connection is really just an idea. Not something fixed in reality.
You might not feel worthy of reciprocation but in addition to that, there’s also an element of projection.
It might be that your subconscious is avoiding all possibilities where you might be told “no” – because you aren’t able to say it.
Remember, if a relationship isn’t emotionally available both ways, that’s not a connection. It’s an attachment.
7) Feelings of resentment.
Feeling lonely in connections, but not feeling worthy of real connections can lead you to have built up resentment.
It will first build up within yourself, then it might seep into your external world.
You might create excuses or reasons for why you don’t need others. Or how you are better off doing things alone.
This lack of trust in yourself and the world is a sign you need to start saying “no” to situations that are one-sided. They’re only reinforcing the idea that you deserve to be treated like that.
There might be shame attached to receiving help because that would trigger your perfection.
And as you experience burnout, you might also resent people who ask you for help and experience emotional instability.
This can be a difficult situation to navigate because it requires you to own up to the way you have lived, but also be discerning about others again.
Because being too available can attract people who take advantage of that.
8) Surrounded by energy vampires.
These are the kinds of people who like that you can’t say “no.”
Some signs of energy vampires are people who only reach out to you when they need something. Or they may have negative habits that require you to clean up after them.
Like always asking you to pick up the check.
You can also tell if someone is an energy vampire if you feel abnormally tired after you spend time with them – which you’d only know if you took care of your health!
You can’t blame yourself for attracting people like this. They existed like this long before you came along.
But you can take accountability for yourself and start saying “no”.
If it helps you reframe this in a way that helps you feel connected to your generosity, think of it like this:
When you say “no” to energy vampires, you are making more room to say “yes” to people who are deserving of your time.
Like you, for example.
When you tell someone “no,” you are teaching them how to respect you.
And when you are able to be told “no,” you are learning how to respect others.
So in many ways, the art of saying “no” is the key to building healthy and happy relationships.
It’s hard to fit everything into a single article because the truth is that it’s a process where you have to constantly unlearn and relearn things.
Which goes against the People Pleaser’s Guide to Life Using Perfectionism.
But through the process, you will learn how to value yourself and increase the general quality of your life. In ways that will surprise and delight you.
You just might start to enjoy being a human being.