On Saying, “No.”


We all have weaknesses. One of  mine, that I’ve been working on for years, is my tendency to hold grudges. I’d like to think that I’m getting (a little?) better.

But another weakness of mine is that I have a really hard time saying,


I think that may have been the source of some of my Summertime Blues this year.

There were several instances where I had trouble saying “no” this summer, even when saying “yes” didn’t feel good at all. But I did it. I can count at least five occasions this summer where I really wanted to say “no” but almost said “yes.” In the end, I’m so glad that I followed my instincts!

Here’s what I learned:

  • It’s freeing. It feels like a weight lifted. Otherwise, you dread the favor, activity or whatever else that you agreed to. It becomes something you feel obligated to do, not that you want to do.
  • Your real friends don’t get mad when you say “no.” The ones who give you a hard time about it – you can forget them. They aren’t worth your time. They were the ones making you feel pressured anyway.
  • It doesn’t have to be followed up with a string of excuses. Having a list of them may help you justify it to yourself. But all you need is one reason.
  • You need to live your life for yourself, not for someone else.

What’s funny? After discovering these insights, I thought I had this post ready to go. Then, as I was about to hit publish, I realized that just the night before that I didn’t say, “no” when I should have. And I was dealing with the consequences. I was angry and resentful.

So despite my recent successes with saying “no,” I still need some work! I’d rather feel great saying “no” for myself rather than resent someone for feeling obligated to say “yes.”


When I started this post, I had been cleaning out my office. I found an old notebook. I’m not exactly sure what the notes inside were from – perhaps an old direct sales seminar? Maybe a class in college?

But the words on the page reinforced exactly why saying, “No” is important.

It was perfect timing.

Listed in the notebook, in my handwriting, were four main questions, intended to help people determine how to lead their lives in the ways they want. In essence, they can guide you in finding some happiness by defining what you like and what you want.

  1. What do I want my daily life to look like?
  2. What’s on my bucket list?
  3. What would be the perfect day?
  4. What things do I love?

I have no idea when I wrote down these questions; but at the same time, I also had started making a list of answers on the other side of the page.

And what I find fascinating is that I’d probably answer these questions the same way now!

What’s also cool? I can cross off some of the Bucket List items I wrote down!  Like running a 5k and taking a trip to Australia (this fall!)

But what was even more eye-opening is that looking at the way I answered these questions made me realize that I’m still not leading the daily life I want to lead – doing the stuff that makes me feel good. I’m spending too much time feeling obligated to do things that I really don’t want to do. That’s living a boring life, not one with flavor!

I think it’s important to go back to these questions and answer them from time to time. You’d be surprised that by being clear about these things will help you discover how to tweak you life in small ways to make yourself happier.

The one I’m really thinking about? The Perfect Day. What a fun subject to imagine!

Do you have trouble saying “no?”

Have you ever said “yes” when you wanted to say “no?” (Or vice versa.)

How did it make you feel?




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