How to Say No to things you don't want to do
Lifestyle Tips

Why We Should Say ‘No’ More Often

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Saying no is hard, sometimes saying yes is even harder. It’s pretty much established that we should say ‘no’ more often, yet we continue say yes. We continue spreading ourselves too thin and taking on more than we can handle.   Here’s a bit about when, why and how to say that pesky little word.


Saying ‘no’ to things I don’t want or don’t have time to do is one of my favorite methods of self-care. If you’re working through my Seven Day Self Care Challenge, this is something you might consider incorporating.

Say NO more often

Repeat after me no, nnnoooo, nooooo, no…

See, you’re a natural!

If you only learn one thing from this post, let it be that we should say ‘no’ more.

‘No’ just might be the naughtiest word in the English language. Growing up when I said something I wasn’t supposed to my mother would tell me to ‘watch my mouth’ if I said something really bad she would threaten to wash my mouth out with soap.

Looking back, thinking about the reactions my words elicited from the people around me, I have to say I’m a bit surprised. Not by their reactions exactly, but because the word met with the most shock and outrage wasn’t 4 letters long and censored with random punctuation.

I was a mere two letters, one syllable. By all accounts a socially acceptable, easily pronounceable word. The word: no.

Think about saying ‘no’ to someone

Are you palms all sweaty? Maybe you’re finding it difficult to breathe? You might have just given yourself a stress headache.

Saying no is not a fun scenario to imagine.

Now, think about the times you wished you said ‘no’

Are you filled with regret? how about resentment? You might find your self-esteem has dropped a little bit.

Maybe it’s just me, but I would much

Honestly, it didn’t feel very good when my words were responsible for such a negative reaction. People in general seem to have a hard time accepting a no.

It’s such a simple little word, yet it is responsible for more outrage and conflicts than any other word I can think of. I’m not a history buff but I wouldn’t be surprised to hear it’s responsible for at least a couple of wars.

Growing up and into my young adulthood, I learnt to dread saying no. The dread got so strong I choose to avoid saying that word as much as possible. I know I’m not alone, many of my friends and acquaintances seem to have the same problem. We have this tendency to say ‘yes’ when what we really want to say is ‘no’.

This tendency costs us dearly.

Why do we say ‘yes’ when we should say ‘no’?

  1. Conditioning: Pretty sure everyone hates being told no. Although some people handle the news better than others, it’s still often met with platitudes and dismissive remarks. No is taken to mean convince me, not ‘no’.
  2. Guilt: If I say no, who will do it? I don’t want to disappoint them. They’re counting on me. Anyone else have those thoughts? We all want to protect our relationships and it sucks when people are upset with us.
  3. Fear of confrontation: Like many people, I don’t like conflict.  I tend to go to great lengths to avoid it.  For a long time, I said yes even when it was inconvenient. I’d rearrange weekend plans, skip the gym, forget about having any time to myself. I spread myself pretty thin at times.

Why we should say ‘no’ sometimes

  1. Some things just aren’t worth the sacrifice. Every time we say yes we’re saying no to something else, sacrificing something else. When push comes to shove, things like taking care of your mental health or spending time with loved ones needs to take priority over that extra shift at work or helping an acquaintance move.
  2. We feel crappy when we say yes to things we don’t want to do: Firstly, we’re miserable because we don’t want to be involved in whatever we’ve agreed to in the first place. Secondly, little by little we’re eroding your self-esteem why do I keep agreeing to these things? We begin to build resentment, we feel unappreciated. It’s a vicious cycle. In the end saying no and dealing with the initial upset seems favorable to the prolonged effects.
  3. You deserve time for self-care and relaxation: Too often we put everyone else in front of ourselves. Remember, we’re better equipped to help others when we’re taking proper care of ourselves.

Some tips to effectively say ‘no’

  1. Practice: Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? Practicing such a little word! Get comfortable saying it. For most of us, it’s not something we’re accustomed to saying so being very comfortable hearing that word leave your mouth will go a long way.
  2. Don’t make excuses: Excuses open your no up for discussion. If you truly want to say no, there’s no need to explain yourself. Your no is enough.
  3. Don’t apologize: Like excuses, apologies open the door for discussions. Plus, there’s no need to apologize for not doing something you don’t want to or don’t have time to do.
  4. Offer pleasantries: Saying something like “I hope you find someone else,” or “good luck,” will help ease the sting of the word.
  5. Never ever doubt yourself. You know what is best for you and if you don’t put yourself and your well-being first, no one else is going to. Besides the only person you’re accountable to is yourself. Stay true to you and the rest will fall into place.

Do you ever find it difficult to say ‘no’? Is this something you might want to work on? If it is, I would love to know what parts of this post you’ve found helpful. If it’s not, let the rest of us in on your secrets, please.

As Always,

Love, Sawyer logo

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  • Nicole Stone

    There is so much truth to this! I always grew up with the fear of saying no… because I was terrified of confrontation. It’s gotten me in trouble more then once. Luckily, the older I get the more I’m OK with not pleasing everyone and have said yes less.

  • HelenaSchoberLifeBlog

    I have always been one of those people that say too often ‘yes’ instead of ‘no’. Being a mother has helped with saying ‘no’, but when it comes to friends and family I still lean towards ‘yes’ whenever I get asked to do something. Your post is very helpful and eye opening. I will keep on practicing to say ‘no’.

  • Stephanie

    Saying “No” is something I struggle with. I take on way too much. However, I like to be busy. I like to be challenged and stressed. It’s quite unfortunate really. But it’s me. I have learned in the workplace, I wasn’t gaining more respect by being a yes-man. I was literally being taken advantage of without any recognition for doing so. I have started to say no a lot more and delegating some things out. This, too, is hard since I’m a control freak and like things done my way.

  • janna

    I’ve found I have a tendency to over explain myself, which I’m trying really hard not to anymore. As you said excuses open it up to discussion and more discussion when most of the time, a simple no will suffice!

  • Kamapala Chukwuka

    My inability to say no was the main reason for starting my personal development journey. I’m now so grateful at how far I’ve come and how good I feel when I say not to things I don’t want to do. These are great tips, practicing and not making excuses have helped me a lot in achieving this.

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