Just Say No

saying-no-585Normally, I’m someone who is down for new experiences, meeting new people and doing new things. Heck, that was part of the reason that this site was started in the first place—to have a reason to try wacky things. But, as the stresses of working a full-time job, growing FBG, and spending time with my friends, family and pup have grown, I’ve had to re-evaluate how I spend my time in order to stay sane. I love my life, but there’s little time for reflection, quiet and solitude unless I’m running and then my mind flashes between telling myself that “I can do it” and singing aloud to whatever Britney Spears song that’s on my Shuffle. That’s why one very simple and to-the-point word has become my favorite go-to response: NO. It works in a variety of situations:

Would you like to take on [insert new project at work]? No.

Want to go to [insert local bar] for one happy hour drink (which always turns into more drinks plus appetizers)? N-O.

How about buying a candy bar for [insert kid’s school]? NO.

At first, I felt a little selfish for saying no because, I’ll admit, I’ve always been a bit of a people pleaser. I was a straight-A student growing up, so I’m programmed to meet and exceed expectations. After years in the real world though, I’ve realized that being perfect is not only impossible, it’s exhausting. By saying no, I’ve taken life from what I “have to do” to “what I want to do.” Sure, I still have to go to work and pay the bills, but I don’t have to clean my bathroom every week, and if I miss a workout at the gym because I’d rather watch American Idol, that’s okay. Life is too short to cry over missed workouts.

By saying no, I’ve regained some of that quiet time for myself. Last week, I left work early to attend an hour-long meditation class, and I passed on a routine social event to put my PJs on early and read in bed. And you know what? No one made me feel bad or had a problem with it. I didn’t make an excuse, I didn’t apologize, and I didn’t lie. I just said “no.”

Now, does this mean I’m now a hermit, who only spends time alone and routinely skips workouts? HECK NO. When I want to go out, I go out. When I want to have people over, I do. And nine times out of ten, I’m going to go to the gym or pop in a workout DVD because I know it’s good for me. It’s all about choice. And knowing that I’ve got the power.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, overworked and stressed, take a look around you at what you’re doing but don’t have to be doing. Then, take a deep breath and say “no” to it. Isn’t it amazing what those two little letters can do? —Jenn 

Photo grabbed from net_efekt on Flickr.

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  1. Moonlight Dancer says:

    I too was a people pleaser. Always putting other peoples needs ahead of my own. When I went through my divorce I went to counseling and it did wonders for me. The first time I said NO, I felt a little guilty but that soon passed. Afterall, this is my life, I should choose what I want to do and not feel badly about it. I still do things for friends etc. but I’ve taken back control of my life rather than being a slave to pleasing everyone else.

  2. tfh says:

    The funny thing is, after just saying a firm “no” without making excuses, apologizing, or making up some lie to get out of it, I always feel SO much better. It’s a skill, though, and I’m still just practicing.

  3. {cher} says:

    i used to feel guilt about saying no to people, but after seeing that i was doing everything for everyone else and nothing for myself, i don’t feel the guilt anymore.

    my biggest “no” lately has been going out with my friends to the bars. if there’s nothing i truly want to see (ei. band, entertainer, comic) then there’s really no reason for me to go to the bar. if you want to socialize and catch up.. you know where i live! LOL

  4. Ruth says:

    One of the biggest parts in my becoming an adult (mostly adult) was learning to say no.

    To be honest, some people still occasionally have a problem with it. And sometimes, I go overboard and am a little inflexible (kind of being over-reactionary about all of those years of saying yes to everything).

    But overall, people respect you when you take care of your needs and set boundaries. And most importantly, you start to respect yourself.

  5. Sara says:

    huge lesson: i am not responsible for other people’s reactions and emotions. i’m still having to remind myself of this every day, but its a crucial one to learn. helps with the saying “no”… and the potential subsequent fallout.

    thanks for the reminder, FBGs!!!

  6. Jody. Fit at 51 says:

    The biggest help you can be to yourself & especially if you are a very busy person, is to say no. When I was younger, it was not part of my language.

    If you don't start putting yourself first at some point, you just become angry at yourself. You need to put yourself first to be a better person not only for you but others in your life.

    Very good post!

  7. Rachel says:

    I think sometimes being single helps with this. It’s sometimes very hard when you have a nagging partner, to do the things that you want. I have lived for may years believing that I should do the things I love and not do something just because someone else has said I should, or that they would like me to. It has led to so many great experiences that I don’t think I would have had with someone in tow. That said, if you have a great partner who supports everything you do, I am sure saying ‘no’ isn’t an issue anyway.
    Great post FBG’s x