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How to Break the Habit of Always Saying Yes

Do you want to stop saying yes to things you don't want to?

Why is this short word 'No' so difficult to utter. Instead, make you blurt 'Yes' even when you don't want to say it.

Oh! This awful feeling of abandonment kicks in right in the moment, inducing a fear that you will offend the person asking for favor and they will not like you. After all, we are hard wired for belonging and social connections.

That's why you are scared that if you say no, people will leave you or won't like you anymore. And as a 'people pleaser' you don't want this to happen.

How to Break the Habit of Always Saying Yes

But the problem is your not saying no to things you don't want to do, and your eagerness to do all, please all actually makes you unhappy, stressed out and drained, later, inducing anxiety and anxiousness.

As you forgot to say Yes! to yourself, you overlook self-love and your well being .

How to say No without offending?

First and foremost, whenever you feel hesitant to say yes, remind yourself that it’s okay to say no. This isn’t about refusing to help them. The goal is to learn to say no without the added feelings of guilt when you know it’s the best decision, given your circumstances.

Following are some ways you can say no as per your circumstances.

1.Be direct and straightforward:

We tend to use the least resistant words to avoid conflict, which comes out as us being unsure or less confident. This sends mixed messages to the other person. They might think that though you are somewhat busy, you can still accommodate their request.

As a result, they tend to pressurize you or push you into acquiescing to their demands. So don’t beat around the bush.

Be honest about why you can’t help someone so that they don’t feel rejected while at the same time understanding your reason.

Be direct, honest, and respectful.

For example, “I cannot help you at the moment because I have this work due in a couple of hours.”

2.Don’t stall for time if you can’t accommodate their request:

It will only build up resentment in the relationship you share with that person. Doing so may feel uncomfortable. It may even cause the person to respond in anger. You can’t control their response or the emotions behind it.

Being sincere with a direct “no” shows respect. It also prevents the request from hanging over your head like a sword or like a noose around your neck.

3.Replace “No" with another word:

This lessens the blow of rejection. For example, instead of saying “No, I cannot do this right now." Try saying, “I'd like to help you, but right now my hands are full.”

4.Resist the urge to offer excuses:

Giving false excuses can make us feel guilty; the other person may realize your deception and deem you untrustworthy or flighty. It can also lead them to renegotiate with you and further manipulate. while, being honest is the easiest way out.

5.Take ownership of your decision:

We often tend to shift the onus of our choice on the circumstances instead of it being our conscious decision. If we keep avoiding taking ownership of our decision to decline requests, we would never truly feel empowered with a sense of personal agency.

Every time we say “I can’t,” we train our minds to avoid taking responsibility. “I can’t” implies that we’re at the mercy of external factors.

Over time, this gives us the sense of a serious lack of control. We begin to believe that external factors undermine our authority - that our personal decisions aren’t truly ours to make.

That’s the opposite of empowering. It can have a significant negative effect on our behavior and thought patterns. So instead of saying “I can’t”, boldly say “I don’t want to"

6.Ask the requester to follow up later if it’s not urgent:

In the matter of urgency, give an alternative, or refer to someone who can help or is better qualified to do so. This won’t let the other person hanging while at the same time, protecting your interests.

7.And lastly, be honest about your capabilities, availability, and resources so that unfair expectations and entitlements don’t arise:

I understand that most people find it difficult to say no, but inculcating the practice of saying no will be very rewarding and absolutely worth it in the long run. You will find more time and energy for your pursuits, invest in your interests, and get the most needed “me time".

I leave you here with a beautiful quote by Anna Taylor

“Love yourself enough to set boundaries. Your time and energy are precious. You get to choose how you use it. You teach people how to treat you by deciding what you will and won’t accept.”

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Somya Pandey


Somya Pandey is an engineer by profession and a storyteller by heart

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