Why Saying “No” Changed My Life

Have you ever found yourself agreeing to go out with friends when you really didn’t want to? How about saying “yes” to watching a family member’s house when you just weren’t in the mood? That feeling can be dreadful. It’s hard to say no to the people you love. Even if you build the guts to show slight hesitation, you’re ultimately guilted, and the next thing you know, you’re saying “okay, fine” to plans when you really just want to spend your evening on your couch.

I found myself trying to come up with good excuses so that I could get out of doing things I didn’t want to do. But that sucked because I didn’t want to lie. I want to be honest with my people. I wondered why I don’t just tell them the truth. They’d understand that I want to take it easy at home, right? Would they get upset?

I don’t know. Maybe.

I felt like I owed it to my friends and family to join them when they wanted me to. But what about my mental health? Where does that come into play? I need to give my mind some rest time just like I do my body. Every night I go to sleep, and others respect that time because, well, it’s needed. But what about my mental rest? We need that, too!

It’s pretty easy to browse Instagram and see all sorts of amazing people doing incredible things! It can make you feel like your life is boring and that you need to pretend to be someone else by doing things you don’t even want to do— just to feel more interesting.

I enjoy my life though, and I bet you enjoy yours, too. We tend to do the things we do because we like to do them. We shouldn’t feel like we have to be someone we’re not. So go ahead and take that day off. Watch that movie by yourself if you want to. Enjoy the things that you like doing!

So I finally built up enough courage and tried it out—that’s right, I started saying “no” when I didn’t want to do something socially. The first time I tried it, it was when my friend called me and invited me to go to a bar.
I said “no.”

Previously, I would have gone, chatted, slowly sipped a beer (I don’t even like beer, but felt pressured sometimes when I was out), and played some pool, all while wishing that I was home instead.

Don’t get me wrong; I love to spend time with friends and even go out on occasion. But even the most extroverted among us need some time alone. So I said “no.”

It felt like I wasn’t nice in communicating to my friends that I’d rather be home alone than go out with them. But, that was the truth. That evening, I got into some comfy sweatpants, ate some snacks and watched Netflix—all. by. myself. And I loved it.

For some of us, it feels weird to rest and spend some time on ourselves. It seems like today’s culture is all about being busy—people even brag about having no time like it’s a badge of honor. So it can almost be embarrassing to tell someone that you spent a night, or God forbid a whole day, doing nothing.

But you know what? I love it! I’ve come to realize that days of mental rest are just as important as days of physical rest. After all, the brain is a part of our body, and emotions can rule our life. So isn’t it obvious that taking care of our emotional and mental needs should be a priority?
I think we could all learn that saying “no” can really help us out.

Now on the flip side, we can’t start saying “no” so often that we begin to become absent from our loved one’s lives. Like anything, there has to be a healthy balance. Everything in moderation.

Sometimes you should bite the bullet and go out with your friends or watch your family pet, even if you don’t want to. But it’s also okay to say “no” on occasion.

I went on for about two weeks of saying “no.” It was a fun experiment, and I learned a lot about myself in the process. At the end of that time, I began to say “yes” again, even when I didn’t always want to (there’s that balance we talked about).

The next time I went out to a bar with my friends, I ordered a milkshake and held off on the beer. My friends didn’t care, they were just happy I was there with them. I didn’t have to pretend. And the next time I watched my family’s house, I had a better attitude about it. I was doing it because I wanted to help, not because I felt like I had to.

Saying “no” can give us the chance to be more purposeful. It can turn what would otherwise feel like a mundane obligation into a meaningful action.

It’s okay to want to do fun and exciting things! It’s great to spend time with friends and family! It’s great to help other people out! But guess what? It’s great to give yourself a break and chill out when you feel like you need it!

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