How to Stand Up for Yourself Without Being Rude

Most of us have been taught from an early age to “be a good boy/girl and do what you’re asked.” It stands to reason we would grow up to think to be a good person we would need to “do” and “be” for everyone else. Before you know it, you find yourself doing for others instead of doing what you want or need to do. In this article, we’ll talk about how to stand up for yourself without being rude to others in the process.

Learning to Say “Yes” to Yourself

Learning to say no to others is really about feeling as though you deserve to say yes to yourself. I’m not a therapist and if you want to delve into your life history to figure this out, I certainly think therapy is helpful. Since I’m not a therapist, I’m going to explore this topic more from an action, habit, and attitude perspective. Article: Are You Worth It?

Sometimes, we head down a path, and then before we know it, a habit has been created. Unfortunately, it wasn’t exactly the habit we wanted. If you are struggling with people-pleasing and using it as an excuse to not live your best life (i.e. I have no time to live my best life because I’m too busy pleasing everyone else), then it’s time to get honest with yourself and change this habit.

How Your Current Routines May Be Limiting Your Future Growth – Atomic Habits

When Others Don’t Support Your Life Decisions

How Beliefs Affect Behavior

Saying No to others is really about saying YES to yourself. It’s about coming to the conclusion that your wants, needs, time, and desires, are every bit as important as others’ wants, needs, time, and desires.

Allowing Others An Opportunity to Take Responsibility for Their Life

Here’s the thing, you aren’t helping others by doing everything for them. Kids become responsible adults by taking care of things they can take care of. I’ll never forget the mental anguish experienced driving my son to school and watching him put on socks that could literally stand up independently. Why? Because he didn’t do his laundry (a responsibility that became his once he entered high school). All I could think about was the judgment of others when my son arrived at school smelling like ugghhh, a teenage boy. This was literally the day I realized his learning responsibility was more important than my need for acceptance by others.

Setting Healthy Boundaries in Your Relationships

It was also during this time I learned friends, peers, and bosses have respect for you when you respect yourself. If people can get you to do things for them, they will.

Here’s the thing, you aren’t helping anyone when you allow them to shirk responsibility for their own life.

Why Aren’t You Saying No

I’m not suggesting you say no to everyone and everything. After all, we are learning how to stand up for ourselves without being rude about it. It may be time to become conscious of your actions. Pay attention to how much you are doing for others. More importantly, why do you say yes when you don’t want to? Some potential reasons might include:

Are you seeking approval or love?

Do you want them to need you more (i.e. you like being needed)?

Is it out of guilt for something you believe you did wrong 10 years ago?

These questions are worthy of contemplation on a daily basis.

I know it’s really hard. Especially after a lifetime of doing everything for everyone. And be warned, others are not going to like it. I mean, shit, who would, right? If I had someone in my life who would do virtually anything I asked them and suddenly, they are saying no, I’m not gonna like it. I can’t blame them for that. But damn, you’re creating a monster! I’m not minimizing the effort needed to make this change. It won’t be easy. That’s okay. With practice, it’s become second nature.

How to Say No Without Being Rude – Tips for Success

If you are concerned about saying no without sounding rude, here are some specific steps you can take. Whether it’s your neighbor asking you to walk their dog or a boss asking you to work late again . . . for free, these tips will help you to stand up for yourself without sounding rude, disrespectful, or mean.

  1. Create New Habits: Strive to “just say no” one time per day and document it in a journal. Include what you said no to, why you said no, how the other person reacted, and how you felt. This will be helpful over time because it will show you that you can do difficult and uncomfortable things. Not to mention the world won’t explode when you say no.
  2. Be honest but respectful: When saying no, it’s important to be honest with the other person while also being respectful. You can explain your reasons for declining their request in a gentle way. This can be accomplished without making them feel like you’re dismissing their needs or wants. For example, you might say, “I appreciate your invitation, but I won’t be able to attend this time. I have other commitments that I need to prioritize.” Here’s an article you might like on effective communication: 3 Tips to Communicate Better
  3. Offer an alternative solution: If you’re unable to say yes to the specific request, consider offering an alternative solution that might work for both parties. This shows that you’re still interested in helping or being involved in some way. You simply can’t do what they’re asking. For instance, if someone asks you to attend an event that you can’t make, you might suggest meeting up for a coffee another time.
  4. Use “I” statements: Using “I” statements can help you communicate your boundaries without sounding accusatory or negative. This puts the focus on your own feelings and needs, rather than on the other person’s request. For example, instead of saying “You’re asking too much of me,” you could say, “I feel overwhelmed by the amount of work I already have, so I can’t take on any more right now.”
  5. Be Empowered: remember, you don’t need to have an excuse. There is no need to tell anyone why you won’t do something. This is your life. I’m pretty sure your purpose in life was not to pick up the slack when others are irresponsible. Alternatively, it’s not your responsibility to fulfill another person’s personal agenda. It’s okay to say no simply because you don’t want to. They might think you are selfish, so what. Why does it make you selfish to not do what others want you to do? That sounds more like manipulation to me. You are worthy enough to live your own life and make your own choices just because. Remember, your life and your time are yours alone. Only you can choose how to use it.


This article is not about being mean to others and never helping each other out. If you do have the time and desire to do something for someone else, do it. Just don’t feel forced into it. Don’t take on the responsibility of others. Empower yourself. End your days feeling like you are worth it and demonstrate that to the world. By utilizing the tips provided, you can begin to stand up for yourself without being rude or feeling bad.

Until you can start saying no to others, you will never be able to make time for yourself. And you, my friend, are worth an investment of time in yourself!

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