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Tired? Overwhelmed? 4 Guilt-Free Reasons to Say “No”

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Tired? Distracted? Disappointed in yourself? Feeling used and used up? There is a good chance you’re saying “yes” to too many things and people. True, you have a part to play in life. False, you have to play every part in the play of life. Too many times we try and do it all because somewhere we fell into the trap that if you’re not saying “yes” then you’re selfish or lazy or aren’t good enough or irreplaceable. Author, Lysa Terkeurst, stated in her book, The Best Yes,

“If I want things about my life to change, if I want to change the way I use the world’s two most powerful words, yes and no, it won’t happen just by trying harder or dreaming more or even working myself to death. I have to change my approach to the way I make decisions. The same patterns will produce the same habits. The same habits will lead to the same decisions. The same decisions will keep me stuck.”

“I feel like I’m doing so many things that I’m not doing any of them well.” Have you ever said that? It’s possible you’ve got too many irons in the fire. This article comes from a place of many irons in the fire more times than I care to admit.

What will people think if I say “no?” Will they still ask in the future? What kind of woman says “no” to that? Would it really hurt to say “yes?” I don’t want to hurt their feelings by saying “no” or put more work on them if I say “no.” I don’t have a good reason to say “no.” So, ok…

I’m guilty on more than one occasion of these thoughts being my basis for decision making, and so many times I regret the time I wasted because I just couldn’t say “no.” Somewhere along the way, we were taught to only say “no” to the bad things in life but to be a well-balanced woman, sometimes you have to say “no” to good things too.

Here are a few ways I’ve learned to let “no” become a powerful word in my vocabulary. (These can apply to your boss, friends, children, or any other good area of your life.)

Say “no” because of time.

Because you’re already using your time wisely and investing in what matters right now. Instead of feeling guilty for not being able to find the time to do more, make the most of your time now. Evaluate your why. The biggest fear we should have is being successful at something that doesn’t matter. Matter to who? You have to decide that for yourself. It all depends on your season of life as well as your moral compass. If you’re a spiritual person, ask the questions, “Will this ‘yes’ or ‘no’ have eternal value? Will I succeed at something that doesn’t matter to God?” If you’re a wife and a mom, “Will this ‘yes’ or ‘no’ impact my family? Will it pull me away from them?” Single woman, “Will this ‘yes’ or ‘no’ put me in a position I’m not comfortable with? Will it lead me down a path towards the things and dreams that matter to me?” Saying “no” to another activity your child asks to participate in is okay too. If it takes away from the things that matter to your family, a “no” is usually the right call to make.

To be a well-balanced woman, sometimes you have to say “no” to good things too.

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Say “no” because of physical, financial, spiritual, and emotional impacts.

You have to assess the situation and gather as much information before making a decision. With our children, we have to say “no” for these same reasons. Can it harm them or someone else physically, financially, spiritually, or emotionally? We must model this for them while they’re growing up. I believe one of the best things we can teach our children is how to handle a “no” and how to say it. They will hear “no” from people and need to know how to respectfully deal with that. They’re also going to need to learn how to say it for various reasons. How can we expect them to say “no” and mean it if we don’t practice it ourselves? “No” responses can turn into opportunities and can also help establish healthy boundaries in relationships.

Say “no” and provide creative alternatives.

A friend of mine once had to tell her daughter she couldn’t go to prom. A lot of factors went into the decision, and she and her husband had to ultimately make a decision that was best for their child. They courageously and confidently said “no” but provided a creative alternative. They threw the most fascinating and cost-efficient “prom” at home, complete with cake, punch, hair and makeup, and of course the dress. My friend took a pivotal experience which could have ended in a pity party on one end and turned it into one of the most memorable nights of her daughter’s life. It became a family affair. It might not have been the most popular or socially acceptable thing to do according to everyone else, but that night they taught their daughter and the rest of the family that “no” doesn’t always have to be a bad thing. It isn’t about being selfish. Saying “no” takes courage and confidence and can have a safe and healthy connotation if said in the right spirit.

Say “no” to fight your desire to control.

Only worry about what you can control. Sometimes saying “yes” leads us to think we can change or fix a situation when in reality it’s out of our control and not for us to worry about. As women, we like to say “yes” because we think we’re the only ones that can do it the best or the “right” way. Take caring for our children, for instance. My husband and I have pretty different ways of running the house throughout the day. The result is always the same—the kids are still alive, fed, clothed (sometimes), and we’re all in our right minds, most of the time. But the carnage or debris in the kitchen or around the floors of the house might tell a different story. He didn’t do it as I would have, but he did it, and I got to do something else instead of adding all of that to my already long to-do list.

Saying “no” takes courage and confidence and can have a safe and healthy connotation if said in the right spirit.

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If all else fails, just say “no” and let that be it.

There are only a few people in this world that need an explanation for our decisions. Again, it depends on the situation, but sometimes all you need to say is a confident “no.”

A friend of mine has said before that when a good thing becomes an ultimate thing, then it becomes a bad thing. There are seasons of yes and seasons of no. Continuously evaluate, reflect, and adjust. Saying “no” can give someone else a chance to say “yes.” Not every offer, ask, plea or assignment is yours to take. Sometimes we are so quick to say “yes” we forget that our “no” could be someone else’s big break. Their time to shine. Pressure, guilt, or by default are not good reasons to commit. Respectfully declining will allow you space to flourish and thrive in the things you ultimately decide are good and right enough to take on. Many times we carry and even complain about burdens or responsibilities that were never meant to be ours.

So, friends, remember these reasons the next time you need to say “no,” and stand firm in your decision!


If you need a little more advice on how to manage it all, listen to Darlene and Julie’s tips in this podcast episode: Is Your Life Out of Balance? – 011.

You’ll also like When a Strong Woman Is Quitting, But Not FailingEstablishing Healthy Boundaries in the Grit and Grace Life4 Truths About Being Friends With BenefitsEvery Woman is Unique, but This Is What We All Struggle With, and Have You Ever Said It? “I’m Not Good Enough.”.
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Carey is head over heels in love with her college sweetheart, Craig, and sees her kids as messy, loud, funny, beautiful, and fascinating creatures! In her opinion, eating her favorite foods is the greatest form of entertainment!

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