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On a daily basis, we make several choices, some good ones and some bad ones. It is important to understand when to say no in some situations.

On a daily basis, we make several choices, some good ones and some bad ones. Many are made on the spur of the moment, for others we take some time and there are some wherein there’s not really much of a choice, you simply gotta give in.  

Some decisions are made in haste and regretted later for example going on drinking binges even if they mean you get a bad hangover and don’t show up to work the next day, just because you want to give your friends company. Some things that we do, albeit unwillingly, are attributed to peer pressure and social validation.

We often give in by quietly justifying the wrong things as the right things because they are expected of us or make us look ‘cool’. These are the things that we don’t want to do at all but still end up doing anyway. It is very important to have a mind of our own and be assertive because letting people walk all over you will only end up leaving you hurt.

So how do we say no to things? How do we train our mind to distinguish what’s good for us and what’s bad for us? Say yes to good and no to bad? 

We list out 5 strategies to say no to things and people that are not good for you:

1. Have A Self Talk

Identify your life purpose. What is it that you actually want? What are you aspiring for? What is your plan? Write down your goals. Check out our blog on setting goals and how they can help you 5 Reasons Why Setting Goals Are Important. When you have the answer, ask yourself what obstacles are hampering your growth and progress. What are the things you must say no to or even eliminate from your life?

By things we also mean toxic relationships, disloyal friends and/or relatives. Once you have this figured out, start writing them down. Focus on each point and think to yourself, is this going to serve my life’s purpose? Is it going to help me or those who are important to me? If your inner voice says NO, then it’s time to let go!

2. Be Practical

If not saying no is costing you your sanity then things must change. You must decide what’s important and prioritize. Let’s say for example your supervisor or manager insists you work on a Saturday night and you say yes, despite having plans with your kids. 

Fine, work is important but so is family. In fact, family is way more important than work. Canceling on family especially when you have already made plans is just not done. In this case, if you are uncomfortable saying a flat ‘no’, be smart and make an excuse or convince your boss you will come in earlier than usual the next day and get the work done. Even if you have to sound emotional, do it. Be direct by saying, “my daughter will be very upset if I don’t make it”. If someone calls you a ‘softie’ or judges you for spending time with your family, pay no heed to them; they are not worth it!

3. Be Steadfast In Your Resolve

No means “no”! Even if we are steadfast and determined to say no, there are some occasions where we do give in. In that case, people may hold that against you when they want you to give in to what they are saying or want. Don’t be emotionally blackmailed or feel guilty to simply refuse. You can’t give in every time and that’s what it is. The person or people concerned will have to deal with it!

4. Don’t Be Affected By Others’ Opinions

People will always have opinions; there is no dearth of them anywhere! Sure some opinions must matter to us and be respectfully accommodated. However, you must draw a line. If you thrive on the opinion of every other person you meet, you will always end up doing what others want. As a result, you’ll lose your self-esteem and stop valuing yourself. You have a mind of your own, you’re smart enough to decide what’s good for and what isn’t. So don’t be afraid to say no for fear of judgment by others. 

5. Avoid And Disassociate

It is best to gradually move away or even directly eliminate certain people and habits from your life for good. For example, if you feel pressured to smoke heavily or try substances when you get together with a group of friends at the nightclub, cut it out from your weekly planner! Switch to a movie night instead! People and spaces which exert unnecessary pressure on you to do things that don’t please you are not worth your time. Don’t think about what others may think of you canceling. Let go. Others’ opinions of us are mere perceptions. They don’t know the real you. If you’re afraid you’ll be judged for saying no, think about it this way: Judging does not make people any better so why let such people bother you?


It’s not easy to say no to everything and to a certain extent it is not nice either. For example, Saying no to helping someone in need is not a good thing whereas saying no to someone who is taking undue advantage is perfectly alright. Life is full of choices and habits that determine the quality of our lives. If we feel pressured to say yes to some people then they are not the right people to have around. 

Please don’t think saying no equals cowardice. Not at all. It takes a really brave person to stand up for what they believe in even if it means displeasing some people. The people who respect you, care about you, and love you will understand that you too need to strike a balance to lead a happy life. So learn to say no to things that are detrimental to you. It is your life after all and you must be the one to decide what and/or who stays or goes!

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