Why You Should Stop Feeling Guilty for Saying “No” to Plans
Prioritizing yourself and putting your mental health above others only helps everyone else in the long run
If there’s one word that’s becoming more and more prevalent as my primary response towards friends and family, it’s “no”. It’s saying no to back-to-back commitments, spontaneous get-togethers, and things that I frankly just don’t want to do.
A few years ago, saying no used to be this uncomfortable, awkward response where I’d dance around what I really wanted to say. It was the “let me get back to you” and “I’m not sure yet” substitutes or the “I think I might be free” and “I might be able to go” uncertainties that really translated to “I’m honestly just too tired to do that”.
I used to be so ashamed of not wanting to spend time with my friends or family because in my mind, saying no meant that I wasn’t prioritizing the relationships in my life. It meant that I didn’t care about them. It seemed selfish and rude. And the guilt that was born out of those self-interpretations made it almost unbearable to say no when I was younger.
But, what was that costing me?
I’ll tell you what it was costing me. It was costing me my alone time, the time spent with my husband, and the time I needed to just decompress and relax for once. It was costing me my mental health. And I’d like to think that I’m not the only one whose had to suffer the consequences of being a “yes (wo)man” when it came to always agreeing to plans that you didn’t actually want to agree to.
The big event that caused this shift in mindset was a result of the pandemic. The pandemic taught a lot of us how to be okay with being alone. For the introverts out there, we thrived. Of course, that also cost extroverts a great deal of loneliness, pain, and depression and put a lot of friendships at risk. And for some, it was the end of many friendships — I personally can attest to that.
But, for those of us who survived and fortunately thrived coming out of the pandemic, we were empowered to start saying yes to our mental health and no to the feeling of obligation to spend time with others when we really need time for ourselves.