We Have to Love Ourselves Enough to Say No Sometimes

Hands in Heart Shape

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire Universe, deserve your love and affection.” ~Buddha

I’m a people pleaser. I know so many of us are. We want to see everyone around us happy and do our best to make this happen. This can mean anything from being kind, to offering favors, to lending a helping hand, or simply just being there, being supportive.

But, it can also mean not knowing how to say no, apologizing incessantly, spending money when we’d rather not, reaching beyond our emotional means, and stretching ourselves so thin we barely have any energy left over for ourselves.

Disappointing the people we love is one of the worst feelings in the world. I know nothing makes me feel more despondent than realizing I have hurt or let someone down in any way. So I’m conscious of doing my best to give as much of myself as I can in the ways that matter most.

There’s no better feeling than giving love to others. It makes us feel alive to share in a loving spirit with those around us. It creates feelings of happiness, gratitude, and affection when we see the ones we care about content.

That’s a wonderful thing. Human connections and sharing love are two of the most essential experiences we can have in life.

But so often we are so busy giving love to others, we forget to give love to ourselves.

We hate the idea of denying people the things they want of us, but we don’t think twice when it comes to being honest about our wants and desires, and rejecting them in some way.

One reason for this is the line of what we genuinely want to do gets blurred with the line of what we feel we should do or have to do. This can be harmful because eventually we may lose sight of what matters most to us.

By not loving ourselves enough—or at all—we are actually self-sabotaging our lives. We aren’t giving ourselves the permission to live fully, live proudly, and live our destiny.

I was recently talking to a friend who has spent her life giving all she has to everyone and everything around her—her parents, her husband, her children, her work. She neglected her passions and didn’t listen when the voice inside kept telling her to make different choices.

Subduing her wants, her desires, and her dreams has taken an emotional toll on her, one that has forced her to make some serious changes.

Now she’s at a turning point in her life, where she is finally trying to attend to her own needs too. This means going through a divorce, and raising teenagers on her own. It means changing careers, changing habits, and starting fresh.

At times, she finds this new way of being difficult. She even confided she feels resentful toward the people closest to her because they still expect her to be a certain way since they don’t understand her new behaviors and choices. She’s struggling with finding that balance of being loving to others without losing herself again.

Love matters. It might be the thing that matters most.

But we must remember to start with loving ourselves first. We have to love ourselves enough to say no when necessary, to make time for the things that bring us joy, and to live the life we’re dreaming of.

That certainly doesn’t mean being selfish, self-centered, and self-absorbed. Not at all. What it does suggest is being self-aware and doing self-check-ins.

“Love yourself not in some egocentric, self-serving sense but love yourself the way you would love your friend in the sense of taking care of yourself, nourishing yourself, trying to understand, comfort, and strengthen yourself.” ~Frederick Buechner

We have to love ourselves enough to know that sometimes being a little selfish can help us be more selfless.

We must practice being kind and patient with ourselves so we can have that same feeling with others.

We must realize the simple act of listening to our needs and wants, and acknowledging them in an authentic manner, can better help us be that way with the people around us.

Putting it simply: giving love to ourselves first can help us give more love to others.

We will be less drained and more energized. We will give in a loving spirit, not a bitter one.

I gave my friend this same advice. After listening to her, I realized she is still not loving herself enough.

She feels resentful because while she has made changes in her life, she still is not allowing herself that time and space to breathe and recharge her soul. She feels guilty over some of the changes she’s fought so hard for, instead of embracing and honoring them.

I understand her struggle since self-love can feel selfish, but when done with the best of intentions for yourself and those around you, there’s nothing wrong with it. In fact, it’s necessary.

Love can be the greatest gift we give. Love can uplift, inspire, give hope, and change someone’s entire life, including our own. So yes, spread love in as many ways as possible. Show people love in as many ways as you can.

But in doing that, don’t forget to start with the most important person of all—yourself.

Hands in heart shape image via Shutterstock

About Angie Sarhan

Angie received her M.F.A in Creative Non-Fiction from Emerson College. She currently teaches college writing. When she’s not teaching, she enjoys traveling, cooking and writing—especially her inspirational, positivity-packed, sometimes humorous, always lighthearted blog. For more inspiration, you can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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