Humans thrive on feelings being reciprocated, meaning if you are nice and accepting of others, it’s only natural that you would crave the same response from someone else. It can be easy to overcommit or put ourselves in situations we don’t want to be in for the sole purpose of making someone else happy. Learning how to say no once in a while, though, can empower you to take control of your own life and how you choose to spend your time.
We are taught from an early age that saying yes to every opportunity thrown at us is the only way to succeed in life. However, sometimes we need to take time for ourselves and not worry about how other people may respond or act. At the end of the day, our own individual happiness should be a priority.
Listen to Yourself
We all have that little voice inside of our brains that tells us whether something is or isn’t a good idea. Sometimes, though, it can be fairly easy to ignore it because we get too wrapped up in what we think other people want to hear.
It is important to be able to pay attention to your own thoughts and feelings. Methods of mindfulness and meditation can help you self-reflect and better understand what is and what isn’t right for you. Journaling, yoga and other relaxing activities can also give you the opportunity to better know yourself.
Set Reasonable Boundaries
Maybe you enjoy going out on the weekends, but try to reserve the weekdays for school work and self-care. Or maybe you are trying to reach a certain fitness goal, and where your friends want to eat isn’t going to align with that. These are just two examples of a reasonable and personal boundary you can set.
It is important to create boundaries for yourself, so that when you are in certain situations, your brain immediately knows what the better option is. This doesn’t mean you have to restrict yourself or become anti-social. It simply means setting guidelines for yourself and how you want to live out your life.
As college students, there really isn’t anyone over our shoulders making sure we are doing what’s best for ourselves, so it is important to be self-aware of what we truly need or don’t need in our lives.
Setting boundaries and listening to yourself doesn’t mean you have to completely take charge of what you and your friends want to do. Instead, consider a compromise.
The boundaries you set are a response to listening to yourself, but that doesn’t mean they have to be strict rules that you follow every hour of every day. It is OK to make an exception every once in a while, but this doesn’t mean you have to do things you aren’t comfortable with.
Referring to the previous example of going out, if a friend invites you out on a Tuesday, you could say no, but if you didn’t want to completely reject the idea, you could make a compromise. In this situation, that could look like only staying out for a little bit or planning to stay sober.
Compromising is a matter of everyone in a group listening to themselves and then reaching a point where everyone feels comfortable in some way, even if each individual person has to modify the plans.
Saying “no” especially around peers can be challenging, but it definitely shows signs of maturity knowing what is or isn’t best for you in a certain moment. It doesn’t mean you have to restrict or limit yourself, but rather that you are taking time to actually think about what YOU want, versus the response others crave.