NO is Not a Dirty Word

Along with Depression and anxiety comes social isolation, difficulty developing and maintaining friendships, and other relationship problems. Generally, individuals who suffer from low self-esteem find it hard to interact with others because they are worried they won’t be liked. One pattern that I have noticed in my practice is that people who have trouble socially typically have trouble also expressing their own needs. They go out of their way for others as an attempt to be liked and accepted. When asked to do something, they will almost always agree to do it. Here are some common patterns:

  • Saying yes to invitations to movies, concerts, plays, or parties that you have no interest in.
  • Saying yes when asked to pick up or drive others around.
  • Saying yes when asked for money, sometimes when you don’t have enough for yourself.
  • Saying yes to requests to use your home for events, or as a motel.
  • Saying yes when offered drugs, even if you don’t do drugs.
  • Saying yes to sexual advances, even when you don’t want to.
  • Surrendering your belongings to be borrowed by others, even if you need them yourself.

It is important to note that being a kind, generous person is not wrong, and not a sign of illness. I always encourage clients that seek counseling from me to contribute to society, and be socially conscious. Helping family and friends in need is important to living a happy, fulfilling life. It is when giving becomes excessive and detrimental that it must be addressed.

Saying “no” is hard for people who are afraid of others not liking them. Individuals that are able to do this easily often possess the following qualities:

Self-assuredness: “I have many likeable qualities to offer others. I am liked by others because of who I am, not what I can do for them.”

Self-confidence: “When I want to make friends, I can. I am good at making friends.”

Good Judgment of Character: “This person is a user, not a real friend.”; “This person keeps asking me for help, but is never there for me.”

Experience: “I know how to handle myself in this situation, because I’ve done it before.”

Self Respect: “I am a good person, I work hard, and I’m proud of who I am. I will not let people take advantage of me.”

It is important to draw boundaries with individuals who seem to go through life taking from others without considering their needs. People’s reaction to a person who is strong enough to say “no” to them is usually (not always) positive. Saying “no” shows others that you respect yourself, and this is an attractive trait. If you chronically give in to other’s demands because you are scared of them not liking you, they can see it. This might cause others to continually ask you for things and push you around, but never give you what you want from them. In other words, they won’t really like you; they will just use you because they can. When you get involved with individuals that use other people for their own needs but never give back, you are depriving yourself of real friendships. Individuals that know how to receive and give, and have consideration for others do exist. These are the ones that you want to draw into your life.