UNITED STATES—It is two letters that so many Americans have trouble saying; no. It was something that has pondered my brain for a seriously long time. Why do we struggle to say this? I think so many struggle with those two letters because we feel like we’ll face backlash by saying it. Why? It’s a psychological thing. We struggle and battle with our inner emotions about how others will feel if we say that word that tends to have such a negative connotation.

Why? Great question, I wish I could give you the answer, why we think the worse when we say that, but we shouldn’t. You have the right to say ‘no’ if you choose to say so. You don’t have to take a family member in your car to a place if you honestly do not feel like doing it. You don’t have to give money to someone if they ask. You don’t have to work an additional hour or two at work if your job asks you to do so. You don’t have to attend a wedding or family event if there are people you just don’t want to deal with.

We tend to internalize how we think someone will feel and we internalize that into our own emotion adding to our stress level. When you don’t say no you tend to take on more and more stressors, those stressors begin to add up and it takes a toll on your mental health. You start to feel like you’re at your wits end and that is not healthy.

We feel like saying ‘yes’ is a great thing, but yes might be ok for the person who is asking you to do something, not so much for you. The thing about saying ‘no’ is that you take control of your life. Your choice to use the word is not to offend or make anyone feel bad; it is to be in control of your life. At the same time, it prevents you from allowing people to take advantage of you. If a person knows that you’re always going to say ‘yes’ to whatever they ask, they might guilt trip you if you tell them no, but don’t fall for it.

Don’t allow someone to abuse you because they put on the waterworks or guilt trip you in a way that makes you feel bad. That is something that most people would call manipulation and unfortunately, the people you love will manipulate you to get what they want if they know they can. This does not mean go over the top and be nasty about saying no, just simply say, “No, I can’t do that. No, I am busy. No, I have plans already scheduled. No, I have work. No, I have school.” Just keep it simple in your response, and if someone asks why, you simply say because it is something I don’t want to do.

You don’t have to give explanations if you don’t want; you have to right to say that two-letter word when you need to place your wants and needs above others. Remember you have to live your life; no one else is living it for you.

Written By Jason Jones