The Struggle of Saying “No” as an Introvert or HSP


The Struggle of Saying “No” as an Introvert or HSP

For an introvert or highly sensitive person (HSP) saying no can be a major challenge. We don’t want to disappoint anyone but also don’t want to overextend ourselves. When it comes to saying no, I think I definitely struggle a lot with that. 

For introverts and HSPs, a lot of the time this can be due to how we grew up.

Did we have passive or aggressive parents? Did we feel like we had to always say yes? What we think of as confrontation or a difficult conversation, is probably just a conversation. However, it may be just a conversation but it definitely doesn’t feel like that to us.

So, How Can We Say No Without Feeling Guilty or Intimidated?

There’s a meme online that addresses how it is for a lot of introverts, specifically, when picking up the phone or making a phone call. These calls are just to customer service or anywhere, but not really someone you actually want to call. How do these introverts feel? It’s better to not get the service! Or it’s just better to not even do the thing. Why? Because we don’t want to do it. It’s just hard.

It Feels Like Confrontation.

When it comes to us introverts, and HSPs saying “no”, I think that the people-pleasing definitely kicks in. You just want to keep the peace and keep everything flowing and keep everyone happy… But obviously, that isn’t a thing. I think this shows up so much with family. Especially when you don’t see them a lot. Like they don’t live in the same city, state, or country.

So, as the introvert and/or HSP you are like let me push myself a little bit further because they are leaving soon or because they aren’t around often. But it definitely sucks all the energy out of you.

For HSPs, You Know We Have to Manage Our Energy.

This is because it might be very limited. You might be lower energy, maybe you need to protect it more and need to take more breaks. But when it comes to family, especially if there are a lot of extroverts in the family, it can be quite a lot. Breaks and stuff? Yeah, those are not a thing. Sadly, it’s perceived as lazy, soft, and weak.

So, what happens my friends? We end up saying yes. Even though we want to say no, and even though it’s for our own energy, we know that this is what is best for us (our mental health, physical health, etc). We just don’t say no. We want to keep the peace before our family leaves but also for our own energy, health, and well-being.

Sometimes there are Barriers Around Saying No to Family.

When it comes to saying no specifically to family, they may have different perceptions about us and our lives. For instance, I am child-free by choice, but my siblings and so on have kids. I have heard from other child-free people, specifically women, that due to this family could perceive this as “well, you have more time and you don’t really have any commitments”. Or if you’re not working, then you must not have anything else going on.

It could also lead to statements like, “you shouldn’t have to say no you’re available” or “you don’t have to worry about anything”. These types of statements can be very difficult barriers to break through for introverts and/or HSPs. Especially because we have difficulty saying no or we have limited energy.

It Can Definitely Be Harder because You Can Feel Like You Need an Excuse to Say No to Your Family.

Or you may feel like you even have to talk about having other plans because you might receive even more pushback. Family members might make insensitive statements like “What could you possibly have to do? You don’t have kids. You’re not married.” “Why wouldn’t you be able to be here? Or go to this dinner? Or take your mom to the mall?” Those statements and situations are all really hard to navigate. Especially when you have limited energy or struggle when it comes to saying no.

So, What Do We Do?

As an introvert and HSP myself, I have been in these situations. I have felt the struggle of saying no and wanting to say no, but not knowing how. It comes at the expense of our own energy and health. This is why I want to share with you, my dears, some things that have helped me when it comes to saying no.

Take Breaks

As an introvert and/or an HSP, breaks are an important part of self-care. Breaks can help you to step away from challenging situations and give you an opportunity to regroup. It also allows you to recharge, even for just a few minutes, so that you can come back to the situation with a fresh perspective and renewed energy.

Taking these breaks despite your family’s perspective on them can be a great way to reclaim your energy and practice self-care. Let them know that you need to take breaks and that it is best for your energy and health. Or, just walk away for a few minutes if needed. Also, when your family leaves-take all the time you need. You just endured a really hard thing as an introvert/HSP, so taking some extra time is totally necessary.

Choose a Response and Stick to It

Sometimes it can be hard because even when we say no, family members might ask us again and again. This is why I developed this method. When my family asks me a question where I want to say no, I choose a response and I stick with it. For example, I might say, “I can’t go because I work from 3-5 on that day” or “Unfortunately, I work Tuesdays.” then anytime they ask me about that same situation I just say the same thing. This is a great way to protect your energy and be assertive at the same time. Plus, it ends the conversation.

Work on Not Being Apologetic

As an introvert/HSP, it takes time to get to a place where you feel like you don’t have to apologize for everything. Hopefully, you have arrived at this place, but it doesn’t hurt to work on being even less apologetic. You’ve done nothing wrong by saying no to your family. Therefore, there is no need to apologize! This is your inner people-pleaser talking and it’s time to let it know that you don’t need to apologize. You’re allowed to spend your time how you choose and that is okay.

Less is More

In your family, you all may share a lot of information with each other and that can be great. But, if you feel like it’s getting in your way of saying no in situations with them, you don’t have to share all the information with them. You can just tell them what they need to know and keep it at that. For example, you don’t have to tell them what time you’re going to bed or why you need a break.

Just tell them that you need some time for yourself and leave it at that. Plus, by sharing less information with them, it can be less stressful. It’s a liberating experience as they won’t be able to ask as many questions, and there will be less drama and less pressure. Which is just what any introvert/HSP needs!

Struggling to say no as an introvert and/or HSP can put you in situations where it can feel like you have to sacrifice your energy and health. But, it doesn’t have to be like this! Learning how to best support yourself in situations like this is important and using them is key. Taking the time to recharge around your family and allowing yourself to say “no” in a respectful manner can help you to protect your energy and maintain healthy relationships. It’s time for us introverts and/or HSPs to put ourselves first and reclaim our energy. So, don’t forget to practice self-care and take those needed breaks!


As an HSP coach,  I understand the struggles that come with saying “no”, especially to family. Through tailored coaching, I can help you prioritize your needs and find the inner strength to set boundaries that work for you. Let’s have a conversation about how we can work together to overcome this challenge! Let’s talk!

If you’re an introvert or HSP who struggles with setting boundaries, my radical introvert coaching program with this free, Radical Introvert Audio Training “How to Find Peace in This Fast-Paced World” may be helpful. When you’re ready to take action, I make it simple to book a free, 30-minute consultation call with me. I can’t wait to hear from you!


Enid De Jesus leaning against a fence, HSP coach for introverted women in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and more. Get coaching for sensitive, introverted women in the United States, including Florida, Texas, North Carolina, South Carolina, and beyond.Enid De Jesus is a specialized coach for HSPs and introverts who face challenges in asserting themselves, particularly with family. Being an HSP and introvert herself, Enid understands the difficulties of balancing personal values with societal expectations. She offers a coaching program tailored to help women who want to live life on their own terms, by learning to set boundaries and say no with confidence, especially with family. With Enid’s support, you can embrace your sensitive nature and gain the tools to navigate any situation that arises. Enid is committed to helping you create a fulfilling life and become the best version of yourself. Let’s connect and take the first step toward your journey of self-discovery!


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