Saying “No” Causes Anxiety

August 6, 2014 Gabe Howard

I am a people pleaser. It is nice to give people what they want and I enjoy taking part in their happiness.

Over the years, I have learned that I have to say “no.” As much as I love to please people, it isn't wise to give people everything they want. Sometimes it isn't in their best interest and sometimes it isn't in mine. As someone with an anxiety disorder, it often makes me anxious when I say “no.”

The Anxiety-Provoking “No”

Right after I say “no,” the uneasiness starts to build. Is the person angry? Should I have said “yes?” Are they turning others against me? The self-doubt, paranoia, and fear sets in immediately.

As someone with an anxiety disorder, I find it difficult to say no. Check out this video on saying no even with anxiety.

Using typical coping mechanisms help, as they do for most anxiety, but it presents a challenge. I want to avoid as much anxiety as possible, but I also don’t want to say “yes” to every request. It is one of the many paradoxes people with anxiety face every day.

The anxiety-provoking “no” is a concern for many of us who live with anxiety and panic disorders. There isn't a simple solution to resolve this issue and we all handle it differently. If you have a suggestion or thought, please feel free to use the comments section to share.

Please watch the video below for more on this topic.

You can find Gabe on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and his website.

APA Reference
Howard, G. (2014, August 6). Saying “No” Causes Anxiety, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 19 from

Author: Gabe Howard

December, 11 2022 at 6:45 pm

In my using NO it is a very Healthy part of my Self-Esteem. In listening to the other person, have confidence in yourself that you can discern correctly. Consistently reminding yourself of your strengths, talents and successes. In you there is a tremendous truth. God is handling all your problems so have a GREAT Day.

August, 17 2014 at 5:27 am

Just come across this on my news feed, and have only just this moment had to send email to turn down an invite that only days ago I agreed to go on.
I was in turmoil feeling I had to say yes but it didn't sit right with me, I wanted to say no when asked but couldn't at tho time.
I feel better now I've said no I'm sorry I can't go and my intention is never to offend anyone luv take of myself and my needs.
I'm struggling daily in doing what's best for me and my needs but at the same time trying to please or help others.
If I don't take care of myself there is nothing left for others so it's important we try to do this and saying no is so hard at times.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Gabe Howard
August, 18 2014 at 3:56 pm

Saying "no" is hard, but we have to do it or be unhappy with ourselves. And being unhappy with ourselves is hard, too! :) Thank you for reading and commenting! ~Gabe

August, 17 2014 at 12:37 am

I have been trying to remember that the word no is a complete sentence. It is not necessary to give any explanation. I don't do very well at it yet but I do try at times.
What I've found is that some people ask about your other plans, or why you can't, which gets awkward. I have one relative who tends to be a problem solver so will try to figure out a way to help make it so you can do it!
Right now I am committed to stay at someone's house for over a week to tend their animals while they are away. I finally did tell them I wasn't comfortable with it and reminded them that I'm not really an animal person but just had to add that if they can't find anyone else I would be there for them. Now I have to fight frustration and resentment and, knowing that I agreed, have a positive outlook.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Gabe Howard
August, 18 2014 at 3:57 pm

Thank you, Sue, for sharing your story. it is difficult - -but we can do it. We just need to focus and remember: Our feelings matter, too! :)

August, 14 2014 at 2:56 pm

I have great difficulty in saying no. But it's interesting that it's not always in the other persons interest to always get there way!
I know where it comes from. My mother was an alcoholic and she would send me to buy it. If I said no, I will not buy it for you, the consequences were terrible.
However in the here and now...

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Gabe Howard
August, 15 2014 at 11:49 am

Hello - Sometimes knowing "why" we are a certain way is helpful in resolving the issue. But, you are right, it is important to keep things in the here and now. As much as we may want to... We cannot live in the past or the future -- just the "now." Thank you so much for commenting and reading. I appreciate it a lot! :) ~Gabe

August, 12 2014 at 10:33 pm

For me I get strong anxiety when I want to say no before I say it and have a really hard time actually saying the word "no" often I'll try to word around it. But it's mostly with people I'm not super close with. Particularly strangers or even friends that aren't like best friends. Sometimes it's harder to say no than it is to just do things that I really don't want to do. And I know it's OK to say no but I just get irrational feelings despite knowing it's no a big deal. Sometimes it turns into a big deal when someone decides they want to hear the word "no" and won't let it go and it's just so uncomfortable. Or I do things I didn't want to and feel really stupid or guilty later.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Gabe Howard
August, 13 2014 at 9:32 am

Thank you, leesha, for reading and commenting. I understand that it does stink when people don't take the hint. But, I do remember that I need to communicate clearly. Sometimes, no matter how hard it is, I need to say no. It is hard, but I need to do it. I understand completely about doing things and then feeling stupid later. I have been there myself! Hugs, Gabe

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