Our parents really brought us up so well. They took great care teaching us all the social graces we need to be graceful and considerate human beings. It is always wonderful to encounter people with excellent manners who are well spoken, educated, confident and yet humble. We in turn have made sure that we pass these qualities on to our own children.
However, there could be a downside to all of this. In our effort to raise such well behaved children we may have neglected to teach them to also be kind to themselves. We are sometimes so eager to please and help others that we very seldom really consider our own needs. Most of us feel guilty to take care of ourselves, to put ourselves first at times or to say no. Yet, being able to say "no" is quite essential to our own well-being. One of the reasons why we have difficulties saying "no" is because we do not want to disappoint people, especially those who are important to us in our work or personal environment. We do not want to seem selfish or unhelpful. Saying "yes" also feels much less confrontational than saying "no". We often feel so guilty saying no that we tend to go into long explanations of why we are saying "no".
If you have difficulty saying "no" it is important to learn to give yourself time before you answer. Instead of immediately giving an answer tell the person that you will think about it. That way you remove yourself from the situation and you can calmly think about the request. Ask yourself if you really want to do it, or need it. How would saying "yes" make you feel? How would saying "no" make you feel? Only say yes if you really want to and not because you feel forced to or guilty. When you do say "no", however, do not make excuses why you are saying no. Just say no, and let it go. The choice is yours and yours alone, your motive needs no explanation.
Most of us like to do things to make other people happy, but if we always put the needs of other before our own we end up denying ourselves happiness. We may end up feeling that our own life does not matter. Learning to say "no" gives you control over your choices and is empowering. It teaches people to treat you with respect and it clearly defines your boundaries. It helps to reduce stress because you do not end up doing something which you really do not want to do and it also helps you to remain focused.
It is important to teach yourself to say "no". People may have become so used to you habitually saying "yes" that at first it might come as a shock to them when you say "no". They may not take you serious at first and they may end up not being very pleased with you. Their opinions do not matter. Accept that your choices will never please everybody. If people genuinely care for you they will respect your answer and your time. Saying "no" does not come easy when you have always said "yes", but it is essential for your own self-esteem, happiness and time management.