Say yes. Just not for these awful reasons.

I want to be comfortable saying no. There is a good chance that if you’re reading this, you want that too. It’s one of the most common things I hear from people who are exhausted and overwhelmed and have too much on their plate.

you deserve to say no

Photo by Lauren Manning used with permission and adapted.

It’s easy to say no to ourselves

Last week I shared that when we say no to things, we usually say no to opportunities that could benefit us. Opportunities that would be really amazing like a promotion, a call to take on a new and challenging project that has short- or long-term benefits for you personally or professionally, or a chance to invest in our own growth and development.

Why? Mostly for some not-so-great reasons:

  • We’re afraid or it’s outside our comfort zone.
  • We don’t think we’re good enough.
  • We don’t think we’re ready.
  • The timing isn’t quite right.

In this case, saying no is easy. We’re saying no to us, not them.

We’re totally fine saying no if we think that we are the only person to lose out. Consider for a moment how many times you’ve put something off to make room for something for someone else. If you’re like most people I talk to, it probably happens pretty frequently. Maybe even more frequently than you’re ready to admit.

I had a conversation recently with a woman who shared that she has lost touch with what fills her up because she has poured everything she has into her kids. Resonate? Imagine how much more you might be able to give to your loved ones when your cup flows over. When you meet your own needs alongside and sometimes before others’. Do you think they’re worth it? How much good to them are you when you’re unhealthy, unhappy and unfulfilled? Remember: we need to put our oxygen masks on first.

It’s not so easy to say no to others

Just as there are not-so-great reasons we say no, there are not-so-great reasons that we say yes:

  • Oh, the guilt.
  • Fear of what the other person will think of us.
  • A need to please others.
  • Feeling obligated because of a family relationship or friendship.

When given a choice, most of us will prefer to say yes and suffer long-term as we do the thing we didn’t want to do, rather than experience the short-term discomfort of saying no. Those are some powerful feelings. Consider this: what might happen if you said no? How much time would you save? How could you spend that time instead? What positive impacts would this have on you? Your family?

Will you say yes, or will you say no?

I invite you to observe over the next week what comes up for you when you get to say yes or no to opportunities and requests. Notice what your first instinct is and notice what you feel. Then figure out who you’ll say yes or no to.

Once you’ve answered, notice what it feels like. What fears did you have just before you answered? What happened to that fear after you answered?

Will you say yes more often to you and no more often to others?


Want to say no to more stuff and things and others so you can say yes to you? Let’s talk. I offer complementary strategy sessions. In this free phone call, you’ll learn what’s really going on for you and we’ll identify your best next move to get where you want to go. Claim your session here.

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3 thoughts on “Say yes. Just not for these awful reasons.

  1. Forcing yourself to say yes to someone when you desperately want to say no feels horrible and takes the gift out of giving! I think many of us were conditioned to prioritize ourselves last which just isn’t sustainable. Saying no can be so hard, though. I try to remember the maxim, “No is a complete sentence.” Staying clear on what and doesn’t work for me is my responsibility! Thanks for another thought-provoking post.

    • I agree that many of us have been conditioned to prioritize ourselves last. We are such givers! And yet it can make us martyrs as well. We need to remember that there is a gift in saying no, and that gift is for not just us, but also the people that are closest to us. The gift that keeps on giving is the gift that we give to ourselves. Thanks for sharing, Christy.