On saying “No”

I’m a habitual organizer, somewhat of a people-pleaser and writer of daily “to do” lists.  I have often taken on too much and sometimes it’s other people’s “stuff.” Their issues, their fears, their problems.

I’m learning to say “no” to what’s not right for me.

I’ve started stepping back and examining the other person’s intentions … and my own.

Am I really helping them? Or am I just doing their work?

Am I really needed here?  Or do I just like the feeling of being needed?

It’s difficult to do because this contradicts learned behavior.   The word “no” never came out of my mouth without some sort of explanation designed to make the other person feel better. To let them off the hook.

Saying “no” felt foreign at first.

Fears tumbled in my head: What will they think? Will they still be my friend? Will they still love me? Will they ever talk to me again?

Then I asked myself this: Are you saying yes for them or for you?

And I realized that every time I have chosen to say “no” to a situation that wasn’t right for me .. I have made more space in my life for the ones that are.


It’s a sentence.

Categories: Attitude, Determination, Friendship, Life, Personal, Quotes, Relationships, Self Discovery, Thoughts, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 26 Comments

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26 thoughts on “On saying “No”

  1. In saying no but then suffering cognitive disonance over it, my husband always asks me “Who are you trying to convince, you or them?” He doesn’t ask it as often now…I’m learning. Very healthy reflection.
    I’m having lunch with a friend tomorrow who is an ace at saying “No”. During our 30’s, 40’s and 50’s, I thought she was a bit rude…we’re still friends and now I’m complimented that she doesn’t say “no” to me.
    The feeling tho’ still lingers like this morning…lighting 9 candles for the church altar+other duties…”Now how is it I’m doing this,” I wonder…then one of my guild members, said, “Georgette, I’ll take care of it.” I was pleasantly surprised.

  2. PS I love your new header. Is it Spanish?

  3. I do say no quite often, and I do feel a little guilty about it when I do. I guess I think that since I have the privilege of being a stay-at-home mom that I should be available for every fieldtrip, special program, volunteer gig that pops up.
    Although I do help out pretty frequently, I do say no to lots of them, because I value my ME time so much. I truly don’t think that anybody begrudges me that time and nobody is judging me when I say, “No.” But still, just a twinge of guilt. Oh well.

    • I can imagine how you would be pressed to feel that way – being home and “available.” (or not!!). Conversely, when our kids were little, even though I worked full time, I found myself volunteering for everything that needed a parent. Field trip? Sure! Coordinate school play? No problem. It was ridiculous to do that to myself and it took some time to 1) recognize it and 2) learn to do differently.

      Maybe it’s our genetics, but I have a feeling more women struggle with this than not?

      Cheers! MJ

  4. I used to be a volunteer-extraordinaire, but soon found it was taking over my life and keeping me from doing things I wanted to do…I started saying “No” a few years ago, and have a lot more spare time than I used to!

    Another thoughtful post, MJ!


  5. Tasty food for thought, thank you MJ! I said ‘no’ to my neighbor this week. I knew if I had said ‘yes’, I would be pushing myself too much. I felt bad saying ‘no’, but I was able to be available for other things. ~ Lenore

    • Well … good on you Lenore for recognizing the implications of what that “no” meant.

      Alternatively – I say yes now to everything I want to do!! 🙂 MJ

  6. I’m a chronic people pleaser. Was just debating tonight if I should do someone a favor and let them stay with me for six weeks while I am in the middle of a divorce and moving myself and my kids in those same six weeks. This is another nudge in the “no” direction.
    thanks 🙂

    • Couldn’t agree more; if you’ve got all that in front of you, you don’t need someone else and their issues on your emotional couch! Take care of yourself, MJ

  7. I feel less alone in feeling this way. I couldn’t have read this post at a better time. Thank you. I’m definitely in the process of learning to say no and learning not to say yes just for the other person. “No” to me, is definitely a foreign word.

    • You’re very welcome. Just to be clear – all that’s needed is a step back and a closer look — you might find that you want to say yes — but I have learned to hesitate before committing. Very freeing!

      Cheers MJ

  8. Saying “no” can be difficult; I’ve struggled with it over the years. But, I guess as we get older, we sometimes grow the courage it takes to say it more often!

    • You are so right, Dianna! I think courage is a good word for it – it takes courage and conviction to risk letting someone else down.

      But – clearing out this stuff makes room for what’s delightful and I will take all of that that I can get.
      Cheers! MJ

  9. Here’s another area I struggle with. I joke all the time that I have a “yes” policy. It takes a lot for me to say no to someone, but I’ve had a lot of the realizations you reference: that saying yes to something means you are in fact saying no to something else. And if I’m honest, I do many things that I don’t really want to do. But reprogramming takes enormous time and effort. I’ve learned to feel less guilt when I say no, but I still struggle with practicing the fine art of protecting my own time, commitments, and desires.
    Judging from the other comments, this is a common problem. And here I thought I was the only one!

    • Personally, I think it’s ingrained in many of us women; we likely watched our own mothers do it (I know I did – My mom could do many things well and most at the same time). I actually have learned this from the hubbs; he has no problem at all taking a day off on the weekend … gasp … to do absolutely whatever he feels like. I used to resent him for it until I realized he wasn’t doing that to get at me he just did it because he could. He had said “no” to committing to everyone else (outside of the family). DING DONG a light went on and I realized I could give myself permission to say no to some things and then say YES to me and what I wanted. It sounds selfish but it’s really self-preservation in its best form!

      Now – when I give my time away – it’s a gift because I have made the decision to do so, not just felt the obligation.

      Cheers! MJ

  10. I would like to say “no” to the bills but that is not happening anytime son.

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