It isn’t wrong to say ‘no.’ Here’s how to do it properly.

Photo by DESIGNECOLOGIST on Unsplash

Ask yourself; if it’s not going to matter in five years, is it worth thinking about?

Chances are, the answer is no.

Far too often, I see people (especially on Twitter) giving their opinions to matters beyond their control. Why?

You have a finite time in this world, and by focusing your energy on things you care about, you can make that time worthwhile.

It can, however, give off the vibe that you’re rude. I’ve walked that line many a time and sometimes slipped off the wrong way.

Fear not, finding a healthy balance isn’t difficult.

Let me show you how to do it.

Inform in Advance

In her ‘The Magic of Not Giving a F***’ TED talk, Sarah Knight teaches some easy skills to use.

Youtube video belongs to TED.

She proposes an example. For instance, you’re asked to attend a going-away party for a coworker you don’t like. Simply say:

“Sorry, I can’t make it.”

More often than not, you will think of some elaborate excuse to validate your absence. The truth is, you don’t need to. Keep it simple.

Other, polite ways of turning down an invitation:

  • “Unfortunately I won’t be able to make it, but thank you for the invitation!”
  • “Oh, that concert sounds really fun, but I can’t do big outings on weeknights because of work! But have a great time!”
  • I really appreciate the offer, but I’m taking the night off. I need some quiet downtime. I hope you understand!”

It is much worse to bail at the last minute without any intention of going in the first place. As I said, it’s a thin but manageable line.

It is perfectly normal to not care enough about the person to attend the event, knowing you’ll have a miserable time.

People expend too much energy pleasing other people rather than focusing on themselves. Preserve the energy it takes to care; it isn’t unlimited.

Side note: throw in an exclamation mark when you turn them down, it seems to work.

Visualise Yourself Having a Miserable Time and Realise You Don’t Care

Social psychologist Susan Newman says we feel a moral obligation to say ‘yes.’

“‘No’ is, for many, a negative word by definition, so there’s an assumption that each refusal will automatically have a negative backlash ― the asker will be offended or feelings will be hurt, or turning down an invitation will peg you as uncaring or selfish within your family or social circle.”

Continually saying ‘yes’ when you don’t want to can be detrimental to your health, according to Newman.

“Your own needs get pushed to the back burner. The stress of overload can manifest itself in insomnia, headaches, exhaustion and even make you more susceptible to colds or worse.”

Whether it be going out clubbing or attending a party for someone you don’t like, you’ll go due to peer pressure or societal obligation.

You walk through the club doors, get your first drink and yep, you hate it.

“Why did I ever agree to this?” you’ll ask yourself.

It’s just the ‘nice thing to do.’

Saying no takes courage, so the person inviting you should respect that.

To pluck up the courage, Knight suggests you visualise how you’ll feel. It’ll frighten you into realising that you don’t care enough to go and save you a lot of ‘fuck bucks’, as she so eloquently puts it.

Adopt an ‘Oh-Well’ Mindset

The voice in your head is the most private of all. Internal dialogue can create an over-attachment to feelings of regret and failure, wasting valuable energy on matters out of your control.

For instance, when Amazon rejected me, I thought that the world was collapsing around me. I allowed myself to care too much.The Unexpected Lesson I Took From Getting Rejected by Amazon
And how I found freedom to pursue my own

“Shit, shit, shit. I’m never going to get a job. I thought I had this.” There I was, drowning in my thoughts. It took me a while, but I learned that there is no point in lingering.

Along my journey, I realised something; my opinion on the matter is highly unlikely to change anything.

It isn’t going to matter in five years, so stop caring so much. This energy, when rooted in your psyche, will seep out into your personality.

So take that big sigh of relief; use it to expel any unnecessary fucks you might give, and conserve your energy.

Think to Yourself: Is It Worth the Effort?

Social media is a beautiful thing. You can instantly connect with an estimated 3.08 billion people around the world, all at the tip of your finger.

What it does bring, however, is a constant stream of arguments. A lot of bitterness feels wholly unnecessary and avoidable.

Is the effort of thinking of a reply, attempting to win an argument and getting worked up about it really worth the effort? Chances are, it isn’t.

Imagine if you had a limited amount of fucks to give, you’d use them wisely, wouldn’t you?

Don’t go spending all of your fuck bucks on stuff you don’t need. Focus on yourself.

Recognise That Not Everyone Will Like You

Honestly, this is such a liberating feeling. People don’t like you in school, and it feels like the end of the world.

There are over seven billion people out there; some of them are bound to clash with you. Life doesn’t come with an ‘everyone must like me’ checkbox. It’s implausible.

Plus, when you’re willing to risk being disliked, you’re able to say no when you need to.

Let them waste energy caring about why they don’t like you; it doesn’t matter.

“Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner.” — Lao Tzu

You Need to Take a Look at the Bigger Picture

The blunt nature of deciding not to care can come across as being snobby. Then again, the irony in that is beautiful. Why should you care what people think? Frankly, you shouldn’t.

I’m not saying you should just adopt a carefree, laid-back attitude to everything in life. Just focus on the things you genuinely care about that require your attention.

It doesn’t make you a terrible person.