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I'm Cydney Marlene.

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How To Say “No” Without Feeling Guilty

how to say no without feeling guilty

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To my fellow people pleasers out there…don’t you ever just want to say “no” without feeling guilty for once in your life?! Trust me, I know the feeling!! I am definitely a people pleaser at heart, and I love to help others out in any way possible! I hate admitting it to myself and other people, but I tend to stay away from any type of conflict because I instantly feel uncomfortable. However, I’ve always ended up getting myself into situations which I did not to be in, simply because I just could not. say. no!

In situations where I would say no, I would instantly feel guilty for letting others down or guilty for putting my needs and wants first. So as a result, I would say yes to avoid any conflict or any unhappiness from others.

Lately, however, I have been trying really hard to set good boundaries and not let them falter. With that, over this period of time, I have learned several different ways to say no without feeling guilty and without causing any conflict in the process. That way, I can feel confident about doing what I know is good and healthy for me! And, I want to share these tips with you today, and the rest of my fellow people pleasers!


how to say "no" without feeling guilty



First things first, the next time you are in any yes or no situation, ask yourself these 3 questions:


1. Is it worth my time? 

Think carefully about what you were asked to do or take part in. Does this task or activity benefit you mentally, emotionally, or physically? Is this something that will add value to your life? Or is it more likely to cause you to stress out in the process?

2. Is it worth my money? 

If you choose to spend money on this social event you don’t want to go to, or dinner after work with your friends when you really just want to go home, will you feel like it was worth it? At the end of the night, will you feel good about spending your money towards this event, task, or activity?

3. Will it bring me happiness? 

Will this task or event bring you joy? Or will it leave you feeling miserable and stressed during or at the end of the day?


* If you answered no to just one of these three things, then you, my friend, are 100% entitled to say “NO!” 

Now that we covered the three questions to ask yourself, let’s move on to the 5 tips or ways to say no without feeling guilty!


1. Understand what you really want 


In the past, whenever I was asked to do something, I would never give myself a chance to think it over and decide if I really wanted to do it or not. If I was unsure, my go-to response was always yes just to please the other person. Now, whenever I am asked to do something, I simply say “let me see what I am doing, and I’ll get back to you by the end of the day.” That way, I can use the rest of the day to think about whether I have to say no (is it worth my time, money, and/or happiness) or if I have the time/want to do it. Plus, it allows me to decide what I want to do without being face-to-face with the person who asked. And risk the chance of them trying to pressure me into saying yes. Trust me, it’s happened way too often!


2. Be clear about your decision 


Oh, I can’t tell you how many times I have been so wishy-washy about my answer when I desperately wanted to give a flat out “no” and be done with it. This is normally because I don’t want to make people feel bad or I don’t want to come off rude in any way. However, this method that I used to use ultimately just ends up leaving people confused or hopeful that I may change my mind and say yes. And I’m sure you can guess where that would always leave me – saying yes to what I didn’t want to do. *ugh.*

So with that, always be as clear and concise as possible when saying no to people. It doesn’t mean that you are coming off rude or arrogant. It simply means that you have your priorities and you need to honor them. People will respect your decision and your honesty. Everyone understands what it’s like to be overwhelmed and overbooked. And they will be able to sympathize with your decision. Allowing yourself to get to the point and be open with people will create a less awkward situation! Simply say, “I wish I could, but my schedule is just too overbooked at the moment. Maybe next time!”


3. Offer up different options 


I know that telling myself to say “no” is much easier said than done! So, if you are still struggling with how to say “no” without feeling guilty, try offering up different options. That way, you feel as though you are still giving the person a solution or positive answer while still meeting your needs! If your friend or partner wants to go out for the usual dinner and a movie, but you’re trying to save your money, suggest going on an evening walk or window shopping instead.

Get creative with your options and use them to come up with positive solutions that work out for everyone! I know, first hand, that saying no can be extremely difficult! Therefore, saying “Honestly I can’t, but how about…” is so much easier, my friend! Not to mention, it is helpful for everyone and still allows you to focus on your higher priorities.


4. Remind yourself that your goals matter most 


I get it! It can be difficult to put your goals first. It sounds weird writing it down and saying it out loud, but it’s true that we often feel like it’s selfish or conceited of us. However, if you are one to always offer your time, energy, and efforts to go out of your way to benefit another person, then how can you concentrate on what will benefit you? Like right now for example…I wish I could be helping my boyfriend and his friends move into his new house for college, but I knew that I wouldn’t be able to get this post done in time if I left to go help him. Nonetheless, he understands that I have to put some of my bigger priorities first and he respects that! And this goes both ways in our relationship.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should never help people! This just means that if you have the choice between a yes or no answer, take a step back, remember tip #1 ;), and take a moment to consider if that event or situation will bring you one step closer to your goals and highest priorities. If it doesn’t, then be confident and okay with saying no. People will understand!


Related Post: “4 Things You Need To Stop Apologizing For Right Now” 

5. Remember that “no” paves the way for a better “yes”


When I first began practicing being more mindful about saying no, this was the best piece of advice that I remember seeing! In fact, blogger and entrepreneur Derek Sivers wrote a blog post about this idea. In his post, Sivers’ talks about the number one rule when it comes to saying no – and meaning it. He states, “if you’re not saying “HELL YEAH!” about something, say “no”. You know when you are in those situations where someone asks you to do something and your immediate answer is no? That is where this rule comes into place! If your initial answer right off the bat isn’t “Hell Yeah!” then that is when you know that you should respond with a “no”.

Just like #4, your goals/wants/needs matter the most! It’s so important to make intentional and mindful choices to free up your time, energy, and attention for what feels purposeful to you. And the biggest benefit you get when saying no more often is that it actually frees your schedule to allow you to say “yes” to what matters more to you!



Learning how to say no is an immensely efficient skill! It benefits your career, personal life, creative goals, and overall wellness. As a people pleaser, saying no may make you feel anxious or guilty at first. But it’s actually the fast-track to earning respect, being more productive, prioritizing your needs and wants, and establishing appropriate boundaries.

What situations do you find to be the hardest to say no in?

Let me know in the comments!

xo, Cydney


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I'm Cydney! I am a wellness and personal development coach who is dedicated to helping and teaching my fellow busy and hard-working 20-something-year-olds the simplest and most convenient ways to begin investing in yourself, your well-being, and your goals! And help you create a life that you love! Sound awesome?! 

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