The Power of Saying "No"


I’m a newbie business owner, a single mom, I have a full-time job and a host hobbies. I enjoy spending my time baking and painting and blogging and podcasting. Add to that I’m very active in my church. I serve on the ministry staff; I’m part of our social media ministry, I lead worship, I captain our finance committee, and teach classes.

Busy is an understatement.

My days and nights are jammed packed. Honestly, a part of me doesn’t feel like I’m doing enough unless I’m doing too much.

Why do we do this? Maybe because society and social media make us feel like we always have to be busy. We feel like doing more is better for us. We feel as if we aren’t busy that we aren’t hustling or as if we are lazy. So we take on something new. We start new ventures. We sign up for new committees. We agree to things with our friends and family and coworkers. We get a sense of pride by telling others how busy we are. Our planners are jam-packed with to-do lists and appointments. But what’s the result of all this hustle and bustle? We find ourselves burned out, overwhelmed, and discontented because we are comparing ourselves to someone else.

How do we fix this? How do we overcome the never-ending cycle of busyness that keeps us trapped, but not making progress towards our goals? The solution is simple: We learn to say no. I know, I know. That two letter word is awful and filled with sheer terror. But if we learn to incorporate saying no more often, we will find our lives are more happy, more fulfilled, and less stressful. Learning to say no is a life skill that we must master as adults. If we want to take control of our lives and get to the point where we are living over existing, no is necessary!

If we want to take control of our lives and get to the point where we are living over existing, no is necessary!

We all have things in our lives that we don’t want to do but we have to do. Things we definitely can’t say no to, like going to work or doing laundry, or paying bills. But so many of us say yes to things that we don’t have to! We commit to things that we could just as easily say no to, but the fear of rejection or being perceived as not doing enough keeps us locked in saying yes to things we want to and should say no to. Saying no can be disappointing to others but saying yes could be detrimental to you.

Learning to say no doesn’t have to be hard. Next time you find yourself presented with the option of adding more to your plate, consider three these things.

Take Time To Think About It

Before you say yes to something, stop and think about how it will impact you. Ask yourself if it is something that you really want to do. Will it require more mental energy than you’re ready to give? Will it cut into your self-care time? Too often, we just say yes to things and ultimately regret them later. We are quick to say yes because we are people pleasers and we want people to like us. There’s not anything wrong with this; belonging is one of our five basic human needs. But it should be to the detriment of us. We have to take care of self too! You have to realize that you are responsible for your health, happiness, and overall well-being. Are you saying yes because you want to or because you feel like you have to? If you consider the impact and it is still something that you can commit to and feel comfortable doing, then say yes. If not, then say no.

You Don’t Have To Explain Yourself

We feel as if we have to explain our reasoning to people and that’s why we don’t say no. We think that if we don’t have a good enough reason not to do something that we are obligated to say yes. You are not obligated to say yes to anything or anyone, and you don’t have to give a reason for saying no. You don’t have to tell people that your child is sick or you have other plans. You can just say no or no thank you to their request or invitation. It’s okay if you don’t want to do something. If you're going to explain for the sake of the relationship, then, by all means, do so, but you are under no obligation. People will respect you for being able to say no and being a master of your time.

You are not obligated to say yes to anything or anyone, and you don’t have to give a reason for saying no.

Consider Your Goals And Your Schedule

Speaking of being a master of your time, before you say yes to something, really take a look at your schedule and your goals. Do you really have time to do this? We find ourselves overwhelmed and not making progress because we say yes to too many things without considering our goals and our schedules. We end up double, triple and quadruple booked. There are only so many waking and working hours in a day! Too often, we take on more than our lives can maintain. We want to do all the things! The things we say yes to must line up with our goals. If your goal is to learn to paint, taking a baking class isn’t supporting that goal. The things we say yes to must also realistically line up with our prior commitments and our schedules. You may want to take a public speaking course, but that course requires 2 hours of class time per week plus an additional 4 hours of homework time. If you can’t commit to an additional 6 hours per week, you have to say no to the course right now.

Saying no is a powerful tool to help you manage your life, manage your stress level, and help you accomplish your goals. It’s a necessary life skill that we all must learn. Maybe saying no doesn’t come naturally to you. That’s okay. Take it one request at a time and begin practicing getting control of your time.


written by brittany harris

Brittany is a blogger and podcast host where she shares the life lessons she learns and how to help others grow from her experience. Visit her website.