7 Reasons to Say No More Often

Remember the time when we were toddlers… I think, the word that we must have heard the most from our parents was ‘No’.
‘No, don’t play with water’
‘No, don’t throw that toy’…

And as kids, we must have used it equally as well.
‘No, I don’t want to eat’
‘No, I want to wear this dress only’…

And now that we are adults, we have difficulty in using this very word which have heard all our growing years. Yes, it’s the same word, No.

For a long, long time, I was a Yes girl. If you looked a little harder, you would have seen me wearing it as a big pendant on a chain around my neck. Anybody could ask me for ‘help’ or ‘support’ and I would do it, even if that would kill me.

I had various reasons to say Yes when I really wanted to say No. May be it was to avoid hurting other people’s feelings,  to keep the peace, to avoid appearing as rude, to not feel guilty or left out …etc etc.

Yes No

Due to this inability to say No, I have gone through prolonged periods of stress, anxiety, anger, resentment and burnout. Today, when I look back, I realize that it wasn’t really worth it to have said Yes to so many people, projects and tasks. I did that at the cost of my own happiness and peace of mind.

It has taken a long time for me to say No. But it has happened, finally. And here are my 7 reasons to say No…

Reason #1 : Gain Happiness and Inner Peace – There are no more grinding of teeth or pulling hair apart in frustration and resentment, just because I couldn’t say No. A No to things I don’t want to do leads to a less crazier and saner me. Saying No is not about being selfish, it’s about self care and setting boundaries.

Reason #2 : Saves Time and Energy – And that’s for both the parties, that is  the person coercing me into thinking and acting his/her way and myself. And that also boosts productivity for I am no longer working on things that I shouldn’t be doing.

Reason #3 : Boosts Confidence – Standing for what I believe is right, certainly is a morale booster.

Reason #4 : Gain Respect – Saying No, may annoy the person in the short term, but he would certainly stop taking me for granted and would value my time and work.

Reason #5 : Avoids Messy Situations – Failing to do what I committed can be pretty awkward. Saying No beforehand saves from this messy situation.

Reason #6 : Sets Priorities – Life is all about choices and priorities. Stephen Covey says it aptly “You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage – pleasantly, smiling, non-apologetically – to say ‘no’ to other things. And the way to do that is by having a bigger ‘yes’ burning inside.”

Reason #7 : Gives Room for More Yesses – Yes, sometimes we need to say No so that we have more time and reasons to say Yes.

Having said that, let me add that saying No isn’t easy and not all people appreciate it, but the ones who will, at least will do so for the right reasons.

Do you have a hard time saying No? How does it make you feel when you do?

Linking this to the second edition of  BAR-A-THON by Blog-A-Rhythm

Theme – Seven

Day 4


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48 thoughts on “7 Reasons to Say No More Often

  1. I have to agree with all the reasons you’ve listed here, Shilpa. Very hard for someone like me but I’ve learnt the rough way that It is important to learn how to say NO when the situation demands it. The earlier one learns this lesson in life, the better!

    • Agree, it takes a lot to say No without hurting, offending the other person and not drown in guilt too. Thank you for dropping by Varadharajan and glad you liked this post!

  2. Ah yes, the art of saying No without feeling guilty is sure something I need to learn too. Yes, we need to take care of our feelings too. I have seen close ones going through the frustration of being taken advantage of.

    • Yes, this guilt trap is something that we need to get rid of when saying no. We need to value our time and commitments. And be prepared for the other persons tantrums (mild or intense) as well. Doing all this isnt easy, but it has to be done, for our own sanity and good.

  3. Great post, Shilpa. I like all your seven reasons for saying no. I agree! So true that we have a hard time saying no, especially women who are conditioned to think of everyone else’s needs as more important than their own.

    I am better at saying No than I used to be when I was younger. I think as you age, you realize you don’t have as much time left and your time and energy becomes precious. You guard it more and saying no is part of that. I’m still not perfect though and slip up occasionally. Sigh.

    • Well said, Cathy! This realization to value your own time and quit being taken for granted comes a bit late in life. I so wish that we learnt this a bit earlier in life. But that’s the natural progression of the learning curve in life, I guess.
      Glad that you are getting there too. Thanks for sharing your perspective, Cathy!

  4. Agree with you, Shilpa. Learning to say No is a must. I, too had a trouble to say No and ended up doing everything for people who took advantage of it. I think I’m getting better at saying No now. But as you pointed out it is considered being rude or selfish. Peace and sanity of mind is more important than what someone else thinks about you, right? Good post, Shilpa.

    • True, a No is not accepted in the right spirit and you have to feel the brunt of it. But as you rightly mentioned, your peace of mind and sanity is more important than the tantrums of other people. Thank you Vinitha. Glad you liked this post!

  5. Oh I have a very difficult time saying no as well. And it’s not just to people I know. I struggle with saying NO to absolutely anyone. But this is an important skill to learn, for my own sanity, if nothing else.

    • True, saying No is not easy. But it has to be done if you value your time, priorities and peace of mind. We need to learn that itt is impossible to please everyone. Saying Yes, all the time can be draining and we need to draw the line.

    • Yes, by saying No, we are saying Yes to other opportunities. So we need to think and realize that before we say No, what we are saying Yes to. And I think that would make us feel less guilty for saying No. Thanks Tarang, glad that this post resonates with you.

  6. True true… YES is way forward for happiness and inner peace but there are many a times when a clear NO gives as much peace and comfort a yes could never.
    For all the points you mentioned here a BIG YES.

  7. Fantastic post! Like you, I was a Yes girl but slowly I have started saying no. At work, I know how to push back and that helps me delegate. That saying that don’t say yes, when your heart is saying no is the principle I follow. 🙂

    • Glad that you are mastering this art of saying No. True, doing something when your heart is not in it, is not right. You will do the task half heartedly and you feel so resentful and frustrated. Best is to say an assertive No in such situations. Thanks Parul, glad you liked this post.

  8. It’s true how people take one for granted when we lack this courage. I have been a Yes person for a long time and only recently, learning to say No. I believe that one should be under no obligation and only be willing to help or fulfil tasks.

    • Oh yes, you become a ‘go-to-person for them’ for all tasks. An assertive Yes is what they need to hear. Glad that you are getting there too, Vishal.

  9. Hi Shilpa, I agree with every thing you spoke about her. I remember being a “yes” person too and I did struggle a lot and lived with regrets.. .. I think I have wanted to be loved, liked, accepted and had a very low self concept, and thats the main reason for me, today i am no longer yes person, coz I have now evolved myself to certain extent and believe in my self and understand that there is a purpose for my existence… its difficult when you are young, insecure and do not have clear goals in life… I feel sad for so many youngsters who are exploited, manipulated all in the name of love and they struggle to be assertive and have difficulty in saying NO. Some times I encounter women who are victims of violence and who suffer unnecessarily in not able to say No to abuse and stop allowing others to take them for granted.

    • Thanks a lot, Genevive for sharing your perspective and experience. It’s so wonderful that you have learnt from your experiences and grown as a person.
      True, the abuse women experience is because, they have not been able to say No.

    • Yes, guilt is a big trap here. But we need to overcome that. Just remember that when you say No, you gain so much in terms of peace of mind, sanity, new opportunities, time… When you think of all these positives, am sure you will feel less guilty. All the very best, Nibha!

  10. It took me a long, long time to let my yes be yes, and my no be no. I found I could help/serve much better when my heart was in it, rather than being guilted into saying yes. When someone would press and say, “Well, would you think about it?” after I’d already said no, I would answer them with, “I can tell you I’ll think about it, but I probably won’t, because my answer won’t change. Is there a reason you’re not respecting my answer?” That usually allowed them to realize (with only a gentle chastisement) that they were not respecting me by not accepting my answer.

    • Yeah, saying No does not come easily to us. We all have learnt it the hard way. True, the other person has to respect our view whether he/she likes it or not! And there should not any expectation of any explanation for our No too! Thanks for sharing your view, Lynda!

  11. Thanks for the blog entry. In a related thought I had to learn boundaries, where after I would say, “no, this is as far as you can go” someone would cross it I would give in. It took a considerable amount of energy and tears, yet it was so helpful to emerge into a person who could confidently more through the world saying yes or no and meaning it.

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