What is Dialectical Behavior Therapy?

Before discussing our Saying No Worksheet, let's discuss Dialectical Behavior Therapy.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy, or DBT for short, is a branch of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy established by Marsha M. Linehan. This type of therapy revolves around dialectics, which seeks to examine seemingly opposing concepts (acceptance and change, for example).

Those who practice DBT seek to help patients work through issues like depression, anxiety, and having little to no self-esteem. It can also help patients who have been diagnosed with severe mental health issues like borderline personality disorder and eating disorders, as well as dependence on substances. They do so by teaching them various techniques and skills like the following:

  • Identifying and understanding their emotions
  • Developing coping strategies to combat and change intense emotions, especially negative ones
  • Learning how to distract themselves to prevent themselves from making impulsive decisions, hazardous ones
  • Self-soothing to learn how to relax after going through something distressing
  • Problem-solving to learn how to navigate stressful situations and turn the tide
  • Mindfulness to learn how to become more aware of present moments without judgment and being overwhelmed by emotions

DBT also teaches patients skills like effective communication, being assertive, and setting boundaries to help them establish and maintain healthy interpersonal relationships. These are related to the Saying No Worksheet.

Why is setting healthy boundaries important?

Setting boundaries is an essential skill that everyone should have. Still, due to upbringing and surrounding cultures, a person might not have this, and they become susceptible to peer pressure and expectations from others.

It's essential for the following reasons:

  • It helps people realize their needs and limits, especially emotional needs and limits
  • It helps other people learn a person's boundaries, which signals for them to respect those limits
  • It can teach people how to properly spread themselves when it comes to spending time with others and themselves without overwhelming them
  • It can help manage expectations they have for themselves and help others set expectations that can lessen the risk of conflict and disappointment

What are the benefits of learning to say NO?

DBT therapists handling patients dealing with interpersonal problems will likely teach them assertiveness skills, one of which is saying NO to help them establish stronger boundaries.

Here are some of the benefits of creating personal boundaries by saying NO:

DBT therapists handling patients dealing with interpersonal problems will likely teach them assertiveness skills, one of which is saying NO to help them establish stronger boundaries.

Here are some of the benefits of creating personal boundaries by saying NO:

  • It can instill a sense of self and self-respect in a person by reminding them that their time, priorities, space, feelings, and beliefs are essential and are to be respected
  • It can help them decide how much time they should spend with others and for themselves so they don't get overwhelmed by social interactions and emotions
  • It can prevent themselves from being taken advantage of by others and from setting themselves and others up for disappointment
  • It can help them avoid making choices that don't align with their beliefs and principles
  • It can help them communicate their expectations and limits to others when said in a constructive manner

How to use our Saying No Worksheet

Our Saying No Worksheet comes in the form of a six-item questionnaire. The person answering the worksheet must do only one thing: write their answers in paragraph form and with as much detail as possible.

Here are the six items they must answer:

  1. What were and are your beliefs regarding saying NO? You can talk about beliefs you currently have or ones you used to believe regarding the phrase.
  2. Have you ever been reluctant to say NO or could not say NO to someone? If so, what made you feel unwilling or unable to say it? Describe the situation. If you said YES to this person, were there any consequences to your decision?
  3. What are your general beliefs and principles? What are things you love about yourself? What are things that make you happy?
  4. Give an example of a request a person might ask of you that runs counter to or violates your beliefs, principles, sense of self, what makes you happy, your space, and your time. How would you say no to that?
  5. What are your goals in life?
  6. What or who can hinder you from achieving your goals? How can you say NO to these things, activities, situations, or people that can hinder you from achieving them?

That's it!

Who can use this worksheet?

This worksheet was created for DBT therapists to add to their roster of DBT worksheets. It's best to use it after therapists have gotten to know their patients better and when they have taught them effective communication and problem-solving skills since there are sections in the worksheet that ask how they plan on saying NO to people, things, situations, etc.

Since our worksheet is free, this isn't limited to DBT therapists.

Teachers who teach kids about morals and values can incorporate this worksheet as part of the material of their syllabus. They can issue this helpful free resource to their students as homework or school work when teaching them the importance of learning to say NO to help reinforce their sense of self and autonomy and teach them how to express themselves constructively by placing value on creating healthy boundaries. Teaching kids how to say NO, whenever appropriate and fitting, can help them learn how to stand up for themselves in the future when they're faced with decisions that can lead them to trouble or cause them to struggle.

If you're not a DBT therapist or a teacher, you can also download and use this for stress management and self-help.

If this worksheet can help you learn how to say NO by thinking about scenarios in which you have to say YES or NO, by all means, use this worksheet!

What are the benefits of using our worksheet?

It can help people understand and be reminded of their values.

This worksheet asks people to discuss their beliefs, principles, what they love about themselves, and what makes them happy. People taking DBT for interpersonal issues will likely be in distress and feel depressed and anxious about themselves concerning their interpersonal relationships. Given this, they might not get a lot of opportunities to sit down and think about what they hold dear.

This worksheet will allow them to remind themselves about these, which is one of the first steps they have to take before thinking about how they can set boundaries.

It can improve self-confidence and assertiveness.

Several items of this worksheet are thought exercises that involve thinking about how they can say NO to people and other things constructively. If they can develop methods of doing so through this exercise, this may boost their self-confidence and assertiveness, especially if they encounter similar real-life situations.

It can help guide people when it comes to personal growth.

The fifth item of this worksheet asks people about their goals in life. The sixth item asks what can hinder them from achieving these goals.

Through these items, they can set their goals and think of ways to achieve them and what they should say NO to ensure they stay the course. This should also allow them to think of ideas concerning self-care to prevent them from saying YES to things they should say NO to.

What are examples of unhelpful beliefs about saying NO?
What are examples of unhelpful beliefs about saying NO?

Commonly asked questions

What are examples of unhelpful beliefs about saying NO?

Here are examples of unhelpful beliefs about saying NO:

  • Saying NO is upsetting and hurtful
  • Saying NO is selfish
  • Saying NO is rude
  • Saying NO is unkind and uncaring
Why is saying NO difficult?

People often find it difficult to say NO because they fear what people might think of them after saying it. They also feel like others won't be able to accept NO for an answer and fear they won't be able to cope.

Some people have a hard time saying NO because the benefits of saying YES outweigh saying NO, even if it's to their detriment.

Is it okay to say NO to friends and family?

Yes. If you're saying NO to friends or family, communicate why you said NO so they understand. Healthy relationships are supposed to acknowledge and respect personal space and boundaries.

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