Advice

The Importance of Saying No

It’s in our nature to be kind to others, so it’s no surprise that saying no can leave us feeling like we’re the worst. Saying yes when you want to say no doesn’t feel much better. It’s a big, swirly mass of feelings that all completely contradict each other, and we’re left feeling overextended or depleted.

This summer, I’ve had two sinus infections, haven’t been sleeping very well, and I’ve been way more anxious than usual. Between work, planning and traveling for three out of state work events, traveling for fun, finally finishing my home, planning my wedding (so. many. details.), running this blog, personal sponsorships, attempting to not let my social life fall apart, and everyday stuff like working out at least four days a week (something I need to feel sane), appointments, Buddy’s heart murmur, and sending Tuck to boot camp for two weeks, I have felt completely overextended. 

We live in an age of “busy”– a word I despise, but no matter who you are or what you do, the day-to-day can keep your calendar booked weeks and even months out. Between being able to instantly reach someone via email, text and now, instagram messages, we’re always accessible and never really checked out.

Sometimes, things really pile up, and in those seasons, it’s so important to know how to take care of yourself. I don’t know about you, but I need my downtime.

So let’s talk about how to say no and why it’s so important.

When saying yes stresses you out

Sure, I can squeeze in that lunch or drinks even though I don’t actually have time. I can go to that event even though I’m really tired and need a night to myself. I’ll just move a few things around and make it work. I’ll relax next week.

Nope.

A few weeks ago, my friend asked if I was around the next week or two and as hard as it was, I replied with “actually, I’m not”– not because I don’t want to see her, but because I have too much on my plate right now.

I have gotten a lot better at just saying no, but it still makes me anxious because I don’t want anyone to think I’m a terrible person.

Which brings me to a really important point.

You’re not a terrible person

You can’t be everything to everyone and you’re the only person who’s going to make sure you’re taken care of. If you’re feeling overwhelmed but still want to connect with others, make time, when you can, for the people who matter to you. Just don’t forget to add yourself to the list.

Scheduling downtime might sound crazy, but try picking two nights and a weekend morning every week where your “plans” are to stay home, read, watch TV, and do your own thing. When someone asks if you’re free, it’s ok to say you have plans, because you do. With yourself.

Let’s talk about how to say no

It’s easier to say no when you know exactly how to say it, so come up with some ground rules or canned responses that work for you. Are you on a budget and don’t want to dine out during the week? Do you have too much on your plate?

I have a lot going on the next few weeks but am free after ______.

I don’t have time to help with that project, but you should call _____.

Say no to coffee

Getting to help others by sharing my story on my blog and running The Everygirl is a privilege. It’s one I don’t take lightly, and it’s why I do when I do. But having a full-time job, blog, and a life outside of that is not easy, so when I would get the occasional request to meet for coffee, I was always left feeling stressed–trying to figure out how to squeeze that in.

Then I started saying no.

Saying “I don’t have time to meet in person, but would be happy to answer a few questions via email” is me still giving something. Ultimately, this is how I feel about asking people to meet for coffee.

The person you’re saying no to might not love hearing no, but ultimately, saying no to them is saying yes to yourself.

Do you struggle with saying no? How do you say no when you feel overextended? 

  • Jessica

    This is great advice, Danielle. I remember one of my own “aha” moments back in my mid-20’s, when I began to notice that if a work friend of mine ever declined a social invitation like post-work drinks or a weekend movie, she would just politely, nicely say, “I’m sorry but I can’t make it.” And that would be it–no further explanation or excuse, just a short, sweet, “sorry, I can’t, thanks for the invite.” And I realized, you can just say no without explaining why! And you know what, I also felt like people respected her time more because she put those boundaries in place. Game changer for me!

    • Your work friend is brilliant. I’m so much better about just saying something like that vs trying to make it work or giving a lengthy story. But there’s a fine line, and sometimes I do think it’s give and take – you know?

      • Jessica

        Yes, I know exactly what you mean! It entirely depends on the situation and the person on whether or not you need to give an excuse/reason.

  • Francislaura Caldeira Aguera

    I’m exactly living this moment. For the first time in my whole life I’m forcing myself to say no and I’m not feeling guilty. I am my priority now and I worth it ! Thanks for sharing.

    • Makes me so happy to hear that. I used to be so terrible at this but have gotten much, much better. An tips/advice you want to share?

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  • jsanck15

    SO. MUCH. YES. As a wife, mother of two, sister, aunt, and friend who just went back to work full time after being a SAHM for 8 years, I am finding SO MUCH freedom in saying NO. I have noticed certain things turning into productions, and honestly, my husband and I want to go home at the end of the day and pour into our kids. Not everyone gets it, and that’s okay. I am getting better at just saying “no thanks” with no explanation and not being guilt ridden over it!

  • I’ve also been saying no more often these days. It’s really hard and it makes me feel guilty but it’s for my sanity. Mostly the reasons I have been saying no is because the request is just too time consuming and also lately I’ve been saying no to one sided relationships. It’s tough because I like to be giving but I can’t keep bending over backwards for someone when they are never there for me in return. This is definitely new to me but I’m embracing it.
    http://www.forthewonderer.com

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