In the first two parts of this series, we explored some of the signs that you might be trying too hard to please people. Our final sign is probably the most obvious one: feeling guilty just for saying no.

(By the way, if you missed the beginning of the series, the first article looked at whether you are a people-pleaser to begin with. The second post looked at making excuses as a sign of people-pleasing.)

I’d like to start this discussion by drawing your attention to a simple fact: No is not a four-letter word. It’s a perfectly appropriate response to an inappropriate (or inconvenient) request. For example:

No, I won’t be serving as treasurer this year. You’ll need to find someone else.

No, I can’t babysit tonight. I’ve already made plans.

No, I’m not lending anyone money right now. I wish I could borrow some myself!

None of these statements is rude or uncaring. There’s nothing wrong with not doing what someone else wants you to do. It’s only rude if you say it rudely, and it’s only uncaring if you truly don’t care.

Many of us are taught that good people put others first, and that people who don’t are selfish. This statement is true, but often misunderstood. People who always put themselves first are selfish. Good people do put others first – but not all the time. It’s important to be able to balance your needs with others’. You do this by focusing on what’s really important – to you as well as to those close to you – and setting healthy boundaries. This way you respect everyone, including yourself.

Being good doesn’t mean being a doormat. When there is no crisis, dropping everything for others just teaches them to take you for granted. It also teaches you that your needs don’t matter. You end up resenting those who rely on you and feeling angry with yourself for putting up with it. No one wins.

Don’t let a guilt trip decide what you should or should not do. Be clear on what’s important to you and how much you’re willing to give at any point in time. What you’re willing to do for someone today may be very different than what you did last week. Only you can make the right decision. Don’t give that power away.

Looking for More?

Saying yes to one thing means saying no to another, and setting boundaries allows you to focus on what really matters. If you’d like to better understand how to choose boundaries that work for you, check out my second book: Set Your Boundaries Your Way: No Guilt, No Games, No Drama. You’ll finally be able to make sense out of the confusion.

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