Say No

photo by Jill E. Williams

So you know how I am a firm believer that life keeps handing you the lesson you need to learn until you learn it?  Well, consider me the girl who is circling back around the same damn lesson.

Here’s the deal.  The other day I was talking to a friend during a playdate (ours.  Yeah, the kids were there but it was our play date.) and I was reflecting on my tendency to say yes to stuff I really don’t need to say yes to not because I am the only person who can do what is being asked, not because I have a need to be needed, but because I like to be helpful.  And here’s how it goes: I say yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.  And then all of a sudden, I look up and I’m living a life that I am no longer even familiar with… that I certainly don’t want… that doesn’t even have room for what I was planning or needing or wanting in my life.

And so, after my playdate was over, I took out a sheet of paper and wrote 38 Things in anticipation of my November birthday.  Because, yes, people, that’s when I believe I can get out of this mess that my yeses have created.  In November.

Item # 1 on the list:  DO NOT WORK ON BIRTHDAY.  Item # 2 on the list:  Say No MORE.  And that’s as far as I got.  Because, seriously, I didn’t need to make a to do list at the moment. I needed to make a to don’t list.

Hours later, I was thinking about this blog post.  And I thought, “I’d love to do an excerpt of Beautiful You”.  And part of that was because, yes, I wanted to offer an excerpt of BY and another part of it was that an excerpt would give me some guidance on writing the blog post– the blog post that I needed to check off my to do list.

So I grabbed Beautiful You and flipped through it and decided that where my finger ended up was what I’d excerpt.

I landed on Day 113.

Also known as Say No.

Because life keeps handing you the lesson you need to learn until you learn it.  Even when you think you’ve learned it.  Even when you think you’ve learned it so well that you dedicate pages to it in your book.

So, here we go, Day 113.  Say No today and maybe everyday for awhile, especially if you don’t even recognize your life.  I’m going to start, and I’m always game for company.

Day 113:  I lose my way most quickly when I enter a period of saying yes too often.  In periods where my calendar is over-scheduled, I feel off center. My work suffers. My family suffers. The truth is, I suffer. By studying my calendar and my own rhythms, I now know that there are times I should never make appointments.

While I know my priorities, I still lose my way sometimes and say yes to something I shouldn’t have. When I lose my focus and lose my center, I lose my sense of self. And losing your sense of self, even temporarily, can really rattle your confidence. While declining an invitation or refusing a commitment isn’t always easy, living with what you said yes to can sometimes be even harder. Keeping that in mind has helped me gather more resolve.

Today:  When I have to say no, I always worry that I will disappoint someone.  But I have found instead that people are usually far less attached to you doing something than you think they will be. Often when I say no, they forget it and simply move on.

Today, when you are asked anything—Want to go to lunch? Can you make a cake for the office party?—resist the urge to automatically say yes.  Instead, think about it. Ask yourself if you would enjoy this commitment or if you would be doing it out of obligation. Then respond appropriately.  I usually couch my “no” responses in language that shows that the issue for me is bigger than that one thing. For example, I’ll say, “Thank you so much for thinking of me. I have made a commitment to myself (and/or my family) and I just can’t add anything to my plate right now. I am so sorry to have to say no to this opportunity, but I know that you will find just the right person for it.” After some practice saying no and realizing that others are more understanding than you thought they would be, it becomes easier to protect your time and you’ll be able to apply that saved energy and effort into your own needs and interests.


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7 responses to “Say No”

  1. Kessia Reyne Bennett


    I mean… no?

    Well, YES to your post and NO to more obligation. This is exactly where I’m at in my life at the moment: totally, crazily busy and tired all the time, always feeling behind, and watching as (inexplicably!) my priorities get shortchanged each and every day. So… I’m looking for WIZGUMP (wisdom and gumption to know what needs to change and to change it).

    I hope you get some wizgump too, Rosie! Keep saying YES to saying NO 🙂

  2. Deborah

    Rosie, this entry gave me chills AND made me laugh at the same time. I love that you opened a book YOU authored and found just the words you most needed!! God the Universe is not only compassionate and specific but also has a sense of humor!! I also believe that we teach what we most need to learn. I’ve become remarkably good at saying “No, but thank you for thinking of me.” over the past few years. Even at saying, “No, I’m sorry but that won’t work for me.” without offering any explanation. It’s empowering and, like so many things, gets easier with practice. So far, the world hasn’t stopped spinning on its axis and I’m a little less stressed and a little more centered by the power of those two little letters: N-O. Always said with kindness and respect, of course. And I probably STILL say yes more than I should. But I’m getting better at thinking of saying No to someone else’s priority as a way of saying Yes to my own.

  3. jen

    I said no today and it felt good!

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