Prioritising self care: How can I learn to say no?

Sometimes, saying ‘No’ can be an act of self care.

Do you find yourself saying ‘Yes’ to a request and then feeling anxious and frustrated with yourself that you did?

In the moment, you may want to say ‘no’, but the word just won’t form and the word ‘yes’ pops out instead.

You can learn how to say ‘no’ when it’s the best thing for your mental and physical wellbeing.

Why do we feel compelled to say ‘yes?

There are many reasons why we feel compelled to say yes:

  • We are programmed to want to belong to the community / family and don’t want to be rejected by saying ‘no’, as this risks being rejected from the group.
  • We don’t want to experience disappointment from someone we love.
  • Perhaps saying ‘no’ wasn’t encouraged as a young person or it was a bad thing to say this in your family, then you will have difficulty using the word.
  • You may deeply want to help but forget that you also have to look after yourself.
  • We want to have employment security so we don’t say ‘no’ to our boss or colleagues.
  • We don’t know how to ask for time to consider the request.

How seeing a psychologist can help

The hopeful news is that saying ‘no’ can be learned, and with help from your therapist or counsellor, you can unpack why saying no is troublesome for you and so begin the creation of a treatment plan that will step you toward this goal in a safe and achievable way.

Some of the skills you may learn are:

  • Clarify what you want in your life, who you want to be, what your values are
  • How to create space in your day to rest and recharge
  • Discover and engage with activities that align with what your goals are
  • Create strategies and skills to set boundaries with people you love and your colleagues
  • How to say no kindly and clearly
  • How to ask for time to consider your response

For many people, ‘no’ is not just a two letter word, it can evoke fear and anxiety that freezes our brain and compels us to act in ways that may be against our best interests.

It is possible to reduce this fear and create the life you would like.

See a psychologist at Clear Health Psychology for support

Our experienced counselling and clinical psychologists at Clear Health Psychology will help you get the tools you need to practice self care. You can book through our website or call the number below to book your appointment.

Tess Tholstrup

Tess is a psychologist with over 25 years’ experience in counselling, coaching, mental health education, program development, leadership coaching and workshop facilitation. She provides psychological care to adult clients (18+).

You can book an appointment with Tess at our Ballajura clinic through HealthEngine or by calling the phone number below.

Click here to find out more about Tess.

Tess Tholstrup is a counsellor and mental health educator