Why "No" Is Not A Bad Word—Whether You're Saying It Or Hearing It

January 26, 2022

People often feel bad or guilty when they say no to things. Saying no has become such a frowned upon thing in society. People also often don’t accept no as a simple answer. They want an explanation for why you can’t or won’t do something. I am here to tell you that “no” is a full sentence and you don’t need to explain it further. Embrace the word “No.” It will do you good, trust me.

Embrace the word No

Many of us, myself included, have trouble saying no and seek to people-please. We want to keep the peace, make everyone happy, don’t want to disappoint or anger others or maybe we simply suffer from FOMO and therefore say yes to every social gathering. It can be hard coming up with the courage to simply say no and to stand up for ourselves. Even if we say no to things we are often quick to follow it up with some sort of explanation, trying to make it sound less “rude.” This is simply how we have been conditioned. “No” is not a bad word, we just have turned it into one.

We always feel the need to justify and make excuses why we say no to something. This can be a dangerous thing as this can go from minor things like not wanting to go out with friends to a bar to more serious things like not wanting to have sex or getting yourself in a life-threatening situation. If we find ourselves in these circumstances we cannot be afraid to say no. Especially for situations similar to the latter example, the word “no” has to be part of your vocabulary that you are not too afraid to use. Saying no can help you keep you physically safe, but it is also vital for your mental well-being.

Saying “No” at work

Moreover, if you go the opposite direction, “no” can also be a great motivator. While we have trouble saying no, we often also fear the word no from others. Rejection from friends or from a job application can feel devastating, but it does not have to be. Check out these five reasons “no” can be good for you, whether you hear it or say it yourself. It might also lead you to something better in your work life as another opportunity will surely arise. We often also avoid saying no at work out of fear that we will get in trouble or even lose our job. We then take on work that is not meant for us. We might do tasks of co-workers, work unpaid outside of office hours, sometimes even late at night or do other tasks that are not part of our job description, simply because we were not able to set valid boundaries that we have every right to set. Long-term, this will burn us out.

More “No” leads to more “Yes”

If we start making more intentional choices, we do more of the things we actually want to do, and free up our time for things that really matter and that are meaningful to us. We also create boundaries that are so important for each person and their mental health and well-being. Saying no helps us to determine our priorities and lets us allocate our time and resources in a way most suitable to us which is all that really matters. You have to put yourself first even if it might be difficult at times. You have to draw the line somewhere and people have to accept it without questioning your choices constantly.

While it might be scary to say no to things more frequently, it will pay off for sure. Saying no more often puts you on a path of many amazing yeses in your life. One door closes (and it’s a door you maybe wanted to close anyway) and instead other doors open and those are the doors you were looking for. So say “no” more often. For yourself, your sanity and your freedom.

embrace no


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Photo: Pixabay

Rebecca Willems
A self-described queer vegan feminist, Rebecca is also trying to live a more zero-waste and minimalist life. During her undergraduate and graduate studies she put a lot of focus on sustainability, LGBTQ+ rights and gender issues across the globe. Having lived on 5 continents in many different cultures and being an avid traveler, she loves to learn about new cultures, learn languages, and try all the amazing vegan food across the world.


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