The Fine Art Of Learning To Say No • RI Family Photographer

By nature, women are nurturers. Givers. Helpers. Solvers of all problems, finders of all lost things, helpers of all. Part of it is who we are born to be, literally. It is in our DNA, it is wired into that Y chromosome.

And some of it comes from expectation, from society, from the modern world where everything is go-go-go and we’re connected to others seemingly all the time by phones, by social media, and all kinds of other ways.

It can be easy to become a yes person. Yes, I’ll make 50 cupcakes for the bake sale. Yes, I’ll join this committee. Yes, I’ll go here, and then there, and then there, too. Saturday? I really wanted to read my new book, but OK, I’ll come to your open house/drive five kids to Launch or to the rock gym/go shopping to help you pick out a dress for an event.

There’s nothing wrong with any of this if you WANT do do it. It is wonderful to have a community that you can support and that can support you. It is wonderful to grow connections and roots.

But then there are those points where you just feel tired. Overwhelmed. Resentful, even. Wishing you hadn’t said yes. Wishing you could just stay home. With your kids, your cats, your book. Wishing you could have a day or even an hour to breathe. Wondering when that can happen and how you got to this place where you’re wishing it COULD happen.

Well, my friend, meet the word NO. Friend, no. No, friend.

No sign

No should be a useful and powerful word in your vocabulary. Simply put, if there is something you do not want to or cannot do, all you have to say is no. Or no, thank you.

That is all.

You do not need to explain yourself, or offer an excuse or a reason (unless you want to). Simply saying no to a request is all that is necessary.

That said, it can be hard to get there. It was a very hard word for me to learn. I’m a natural people pleaser. I don’t want to let anyone down. It was only when my health suffered from an unexpected autoimmune illness did I realize I had to start saying no to things because I was forced to. At the same time, I wondered why I hadn’t done this sooner. I was calmer. I had more time to do things I needed or just wanted to do. I became more balanced overall and able to give more to that which I said “yes” to.

Sometimes we say yes out of a feeling of obligation or guilt or indebtedness. Or it could be a natural reaction to please those who we know or love. That’s not a bad thing, until you’re too tired, or too overwhelmed, or can’t figure out how you can possibly be in two different places at once. When that happens, say this.

Repeat after me.

No. I can’t. Thanks for asking.


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