Mental Health

Why you should say NO more often.


Are you a people pleasing person? I am. No matter how hard I try, I put people’s need before mine and say YES. Yes, I can do it. Yes, I have time. And yes, I am feeling great. Reality is, NO I can’t do it because I don’t have time. No, I am not feeling good. No, I need sometime for myself!

Despite recognizing this, I continue to say YES when I should be saying NO, I can’t or won’t change it. I often believe that I need to keep people happy to feel better about myself, and actually feel that I can achieve my goals.

Although saying NO it’s something I haven’t been able to fully master, I am proud to say that I am working really hard to say it more often, and NOT feel bad about it. I started fighting it by first understanding the WHY. Why is it so important to say NO more often?

People won’t know unless you say something.

Have you actually considered that people keep giving you more work to do because you are always saying yes? Unless you speak up and say NO, people will assume that you have the time and disposition to do more work, all the time.

I used to get angry at people for being inconsiderate until I realized that I was the reason I was always so busy and miserable. I decided to say YES to everything despite knowing I wasn’t going to be able to complete all the tasks without sacrificing sleep and self-care. Which leads me to the next point…

Self-Care is NOT worth sacrificing.

I can’t tell you how many times I have considered pulling all-nighters or decided to skip a meal to get things done on time. Too many to count! Those were only two of the many decisions I used to take on a weekly basis because I said too many YESes and not a single NO.

Sleep deprivation, malnutrition and poor hygiene WON’T help you satisfy all the YESes you decided to give. On the contrary, you WON’T be able to accomplish tasks efficiently and effectively. The quality and quantity of your work will be significantly affected, and worst of all, your health (the only thing that will keep you running) is completely deteriorated. I am not just talking about physical deterioration, but also about the burdens of emotional and mental health that will come as a consequence of saying YES when you know you should’ve said NO.

Your worth is not based on how much you do or what people think about you.

Don’t get me wrong, feedback is always useful, important and should be well received. HOWEVER, feedback, comments and even how much you accomplished in a single day, won’t define who you are or how much you are WORTH.

Personally, this point is the hardest to work on. As I mentioned in the beginning, I am a people pleasing person and part of the reason is because I depend on people’s feedback to build an opinion of myself. This is absolutely WRONG.

As I write this, I am not only trying to help you but also helps by constantly reminding myself that who I am and my worth have absolutely nothing to do with how many things I managed to do in a week, and how many more YESes I can add to my never-ending list.

Therefore, saying NO more often will have NO negative impact in who I am. I am an intelligent woman despite of saying NO to the coworkers that were asking me to finish their experiments. I am a great scientist despite telling my boss that I don’t have the time to do more lab tasks, and I am strong despite saying that I am not having a good day; that I am having a blue day.

More Time, Healthier Life and Sane Mind.

Saying NO will allow you to do more than saying YES. Prioritizing your to-do lists and recognizing when it is time to say NO, will guarantee you a productive, healthy and stable life. You will have more time to complete your tasks, which will then, give you more time to take care of yourself (physically and mentally), and be more productive and efficient at work and at home.

This is why you should SAY NO MORE OFTEN!

My personal experience

This particular topic has always been a challenge for me. I have always been a people pleasing person, but it started to become a huge problem when I joined my PhD program.

I experienced sleep deprivation and malnutrition first-hand. At first, I thought it was a normal thing to experience since it is graduate school after all. I started getting sick way too often and my stomach started acting up a little. That little became too much, so I ended hospitalized for dehydration and a serious case of gastritis. At the end, I was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). It was my first wake up call.

The following months continued as usual. I was trying to take care of my IBS but nothing seemed to make it better despite my doctor asking me to work less and reduce the stress. I was just finishing up my first year in graduate school so working less and reducing the stress was IMPOSSIBLE. Sleep continued to be an issue and IBS was an issue as well, but I sort of learned to live with it.

I struggled but I continue to say YES because I wanted to become a great scientist, and working extra hard seemed to be the “right path”. I wanted to feel good about myself, so I continue to say YES.

Two years after my hospitalization, I ended up in the emergency room. This time, I was physically, emotionally and mentally unstable. I had reached my breaking point. I was hospitalized for a week! The thing is, I couldn’t understand how I got to that point. I thought I was doing everything I was supposed to do. After my hospitalization, I decided to take a medical leave and FINALLY TAKE CARE OF MYSELF!

My priorities have changed since then. I am not going to lie to you, I am still working on this and the process is challenging. Nonetheless, it is worth it because I am worth it. Saying NO more often will keep me out of the hospital and help me accomplish my goals.

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  • Tiffany

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