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It’s OK To Say No…

How stressed out are you right now? There are only 12 days until Christmas morning and I’ll bet many of you reading this are being pulled in a hundred different directions. Kid’s Christmas programs, presents to buy and wrap, work obligations, home obligations, in-laws coming to town, and twelve dozen Christmas cookies to still bake and decorate. You have promised to be everything to everyone and you’ll be damned if everyone around you doesn’t have a holly, jolly Christmas.

But then you blink and it’s almost ten o’clock in the evening and you can’t even remember if you used the restroom yet today. You have stretched yourself so thin that you can’t even find the time to take a relaxing bath or read for a few minutes. How can you when you have promised to be everything to everyone and you refuse to say no to any request that comes your way?

Believe me, I get it. You want everyone around you to be happy even if it means sacrificing your own happiness. You refuse to say no because you want to be that person that everyone can count on. You refuse to say no because you don’t want anyone angry at you for refusing to do something that they asked.

We are people-pleasers and we are conditioned to put on a happy face and make everyone else feel happy even when we might be feeling blue. We take on too much in order to make everyone else’s life easier and disregard our own needs in the process. We are afraid of losing important people in our life if we say “no” or are unable to come through for them when they need our help.

The problem with being a people-pleaser is that the need to make everyone happy doesn’t stem from an extra-large heart or a “nice” gene; it stems from a deep insecurity. Something happened in our past that has made us put extraordinary pressure on ourselves to make everyone around us feel happy and taken care of all of the time. Something in our past has made us feel ashamed to say no to anyone. Something in our past has made us forget about ourselves and what we want.

Maybe you grew up in a household like mine where you walked around on eggshells, absolutely terrified to do anything wrong or say no to anything because of the severe consequences that would follow. Or maybe you grew up in a household where you had unrealistic expectations placed on you, causing you to push yourself to limits you didn’t need to at such a young age. There could have been a million things that contributed to us feeling the need to be everything to everyone.

But regardless of the reasons, all we are doing by trying to make everyone happy except ourselves is refusing to move on from our pasts. We are carrying the same fears and unrealistic expectations that we had as kids into our present lives. We are afraid to say no because we expect to be hurt or punished if we do. We have been conditioned in some way, shape, or form to allow people to walk all over us.

Look around at where you are at now. You aren’t in your past, this is your present. The people you have in your life right now love you unconditionally and want your happiness as much as you want theirs. They aren’t going to yell at you or not speak to you for months if you ask for help or say no; in fact, they will probably be ecstatic that you are letting down a wall and allowing them in. Your past will only become your present if you allow it to.

So when your in-laws come to town, have one of them make the cookies while you go relax for an hour. It’s OK, you deserve it.

It’s OK To Say No…

Sarah Burleton NY Times bestselling author

Victoria Gigante Writes For Psych CentralSarah Burleton was born in a little town in Illinois to a very emotionally disturbed woman. Her first book, her child abuse memoir "Why Me," spent 26 weeks on the New York Times and the print version is endorsed by David Pelzer, author of "A Child Called It." Sarah is now realizing her goal in becoming an ambassador for abused children and adult survivors and is currently conducting workshops and seminars throughout the state. Her message of strength over adversity and her story will help counselors, teachers, and other professionals identify signs of abuse and learn ways to establish trust with an abused child.

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APA Reference
, . (2016). It’s OK To Say No…. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 11, 2020, from


Last updated: 13 Dec 2016
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