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3 Mantras I've Learned in the Art of Saying 'No'

I’ve always been a people pleaser. From a young age, I had a lot of anxiety when it came to any kind of confrontation, having to disagree or say no to someone or something. Since beginning therapy, my therapist told me something that has continued to stick with me. She said, “Erica, you’re an adult. You do not have to do anything that makes you uncomfortable or anxious, regardless of the circumstances.”

Therapy has taught me many things, but one of the most inspirational lessons has been the art of saying no. I’ve learned not only is it OK to say no, sometimes it’s the right choice for you.

Here are some new mantras I’ve learned in the art of saying no:

1. Stick up for yourself.

This is something I’ve always had trouble with. When you’re a people pleaser, sticking up for yourself becomes difficult. You come across the anxiety of making others angry and for me, having others not like me. I’ve always had a good deal of anxiety when it comes to how others see me and the act of sticking up for myself directly affects that. It’s so important to know when you’re being disrespected and protect yourself, rather than let a situation build and build until it either explodes or ruins a relationship. Yes, sticking up for yourself could ultimately ruin a relationship anyway, but if someone has a problem with you protecting yourself, they weren’t a good friend to begin with.

2. Know your worth.

Please understand you do not have to put up with anything that makes you feel uncomfortable or uneasy. Anxiety affects everyone differently and people who have more serious bouts can feel anxious for smaller things and that can be hard to understand for people who aren’t in the same mind frame. If you find yourself becoming anxious or uncomfortable more often than not, it’s time to assess the situation and know you deserve better and more understanding.

3. It’s OK to move on.

This is probably the toughest lesson I’ve had to learn. More recently, I’ve found it easier to stick up for myself or remove certain people from my life who aren’t treating me respectfully, but the tricky part is moving on from it. With my anxiety, it becomes a struggle to fully move on once I’ve made the decision to say no to a relationship. However, with therapy I’m learning healthier ways to remove myself from uncomfortable situations. I would rather have fewer friends and a more positive outlook on life, than be surrounded by negative people who don’t treat me with compassion and understanding.

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Thinkstock photo via David De Lossy.