I’m a recovering people-pleaser, so I get it. It can be really hard to say no.
It has taken a long time to get to the point where I consider before committing.
I used to say, “Sure, I can do that for you!” I now say, “Let me get back to you on that.”
This gives me time to ask myself, “Do I really want to say yes, or would I rather say no? Would my yes be all-in, or would it feel like another chore to check off my to-do list?”
And while there are absolutely times that we are called to serve others and meet their needs, we must first take care of ourselves and our needs, otherwise we will be pouring from an empty cup. Sometimes we need to say no for ourselves, for our family, or for our priorities.
The next request you get, notice the way you feel about it. Have you noticed how often our gut reaction is right about these kinds of things? Does this new request make you feel drained already, or even give you a sense of dread? That’s a red flag.
Projects you take on from a place of depletion will not receive your best effort or produce your best results.
On the flip side, does this new request fill you with a sense of purpose or excitement? Is there genuine desire to see it through?
Think about how much more willing you would be to take on projects that you can put your heart into, that are fun, fulfilling, or life-giving.
Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should.
There are many things in life that I could spend my time on, but there are a select few that are truly worthy of my time. It’s up to you to learn and discover what is worthy of your yes, and what deserves a no, thank you.
Here’s the magical thing about saying no. Every time you stand your ground and choose to say no to one thing, it means you are saying yes to something else.
That something else could be for your own rest (more sleep, more baths) or for your own enjoyment (more reading, more pool time, more traveling). You don’t have to justify your no. If your yes is something you need, or your family needs, that’s enough of a reason.
At first, I was afraid to say, “Let me get back to you on that,” because I was conditioned to say, “Sure, I can do that.” But if you continue to say the former, it becomes more of a natural response every time you do—even if you have to say it more than once (or twice) in the same conversation. It does work.
Most of us have a few people in our lives who do most of the asking. These people are used to getting your hasty yes to their every request. Chances are, they won’t be happy about your assertiveness.
That’s okay. You will have to retrain them with your new answer, and eventually they will adjust to the idea that you will get back to them—even if it might not be the answer they have come to expect.
I love the quote by Jen Hatmaker that says, “If it’s not a hell yes, it’s a no.”
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