Saying No to Others Can Mean Saying Yes to Yourself

by | Oct 11, 2020 | Recovery

As children, we are often taught to play nicely with others by sharing our toys or inviting other children to play with us. While adults are well-meaning when teaching us manners, there is often an underlying message being sent: it’s impolite to say no. This is why so many children grow up to be people-pleasers. They bend over backward to accommodate someone else but, in doing so, are putting themselves at a disadvantage. Of course, it’s essential to treat everyone with kindness and help others where you can. However, taking it too far can lead you to continually put others’ well-being ahead of your own. Sober Life wants to help you understand that you are allowed to say no to others. Saying no to others can mean that you are saying yes to yourself! 

People Pleasers Please Everyone But Themselves

If you find that you drop everything you’re doing to help a friend in need to the detriment of your own well-being, you might be a people pleaser. We know your intentions are good. You have a genuine attitude and want others to feel good, so you’ll do anything you can to help. Being a people pleaser can begin to take a toll on your own health and happiness when you are too afraid to say no when others ask for help. The consequences start to pile up on your own plate, but you can never start to figure them out because you are always helping other people. There comes a time, usually in your recovery, where you must commit to putting yourself first. Your health and well-being are the most important thing when you are in recovery from substance abuse. If you’re used to helping out others all of the time, it’s time to start thinking about pleasing yourself. You deserve to get sober and stay sober. You can only do that if you choose to put yourself first.

Stopping the Spiral

The more you say yes to others, the more you are saying no to yourself. This contributes to the spiral you find yourself in, which can be challenging to pull yourself out of. One of the first steps to stopping a spiral is to figure out why you feel the need to say yes all of the time. There are often underlying feelings surrounding your inability to say no. Maybe you’re afraid of what will happen if you say no to a friend in need. Are you thinking that they might reject you? Maybe you are scared of feeling like a bad friend. Is this your way to avoid conflict? It’s going to take some time, but it’s imperative to get to the root of why saying no is so difficult for you. 

Self-Care Isn’t Selfish

For some reason, there’s a common misconception that taking the time to practice self-care is selfish somehow. Here’s the thing, though: you cannot pour from an empty cup. If you don’t make yourself a priority, things will begin to pile up on your plate. You cannot possibly help others if you first do not take care of yourself. Your job isn’t to sit around and put off your responsibilities because your friend may need you. It’s only when you have taken care of yourself that you can move on to helping others take care of themselves.

Your recovery from substance abuse is going to require you to put yourself first. You cannot go into treatment with the mindset that self-care is selfish and expect to get anything out of treatment. If you’re thinking about entering treatment for an addiction, start by becoming comfortable with the idea of putting yourself first. If someone asks you for something that would not further your recovery goals, you must be able to say no. Recovery can only happen when you harness the power to say no to others so that you can say yes to yourself. 

saying yes and self care

How Can I Learn to Start Saying No?

Like any other habit you want to replace with something healthier, the process takes repetition and time. It will probably be uncomfortable and awkward at first, but the more you do it, the better you will get. Consider the tips below and think about how you can implement them in your daily life.

  • Just like with anything else, you’ve got to start somewhere. Some people will be harder to say no to than others, so start out by being assertive with someone you trust and are comfortable with.
  • Often, people are pressured into saying yes because they feel like they have to respond right away. Instead of jumping into something you might regret, tell the person that you will assess your options and get back to them soon. This gives you a bit of time to figure out if their request is feasible or not.
  • Instead of feeling guilty for saying no or thinking about all that you are going to miss out on, look at the situation and think about what you gain from saying no. Turning down something that doesn’t serve you allows you to say yes to something so much better.
  • Always remember that no is a complete sentence that doesn’t need to be followed with an explanation. Although you might feel like you have to give a reason for why you are saying no, you don’t. You can thank the person for thinking of you while politely telling them that it doesn’t work right now.
  • Understand that some people, usually those who are used to you always saying yes, will probably be a bit surprised that you are saying no. If the situation presents itself and you feel comfortable doing so, try offering a compromise. This isn’t always necessary, however. Do what you are comfortable with.

Sober Life is here to help you learn to prioritize your health and well-being in your recovery. We know that your health and well-being may have taken a backseat to your substance abuse in the past. It doesn’t have to remain that way forever. This new stage in your life will work best when you put your health and well-being first. This sometimes means saying no to the requests of others that contradict your current recovery goals. Call our Sober Life staff today at (619) 542-9542. We can’t wait to speak with you and get you the help you need! Your recovery deserves to be a priority in your life. You may not know where to begin, which is what we’re here for. Sober Life can help you be successful in sobriety. Call us now!

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