How To Say No

Near the end of last year I felt such a burden on my heart.

That sounds cliche and so momentous, so feel free to roll your eyes. I’m rolling my eyes! But I don’t really know any other way to put it. It was this strong and forthright tug that said, “say no”.

Say no.

And say it more. More often than you say yes. 

I harshly responded to myself … as I often talk do in my daily banter in Gretchen vs G Boss, “But I don’t WANT to!” and “I don’t have to say no, it’s easy for me to just say yes and do it!” or “It would be good experience!” or, the real kicker for my perfectionist self, “What will they think if I say no?”. A thousand other little reasons ensued as to why saying no didn’t fit what my mind was telling me to do.

But I tried it.

I said no. I said no to some big, awesome things. I said no to some small, menial things. I looked at each situation, said a little prayer, weighed its’ merits and called in a vote – yes or no? HOW TO SAY NO

Sometimes it took guts. I hate disappointing people. And on occasion some explaining. But I started saying no. To events, to purchases, to activities, to things consuming my time that weren’t edifying to my purpose. 

And it felt really, really good. It felt good to look at my calendar and see emptiness. To chronicle my to do list and have time for long forgotten projects. To allot space in my day to do random things just because. I could do all that because I had said no to things formerly exhausting my efforts. 

Saying no doesn’t come naturally to me, not one bit. I want to say yes – every time. I want to join all the clubs, attend all the classes, and take Jemma and Max on every possible adventure. I like being busy. A day of nothing is boring and stressful to me. 

Last year, I learned how to say no. And I’m applying it liberally and often. When I feel conflicted  or sense that God-given hesitancy – no. If I can’t find a benefit for my family – no. If it doesn’t encourage my dreams or align with my personal calling – no. If it contradicts my previously established time, space or relationship boundaries  – no. 

And it can be as simple as that. Just say – no. I’ve found that rarely do people ask for an explanation. I feel compelled to give one, but its been only a few occasions where I’ve actually been asked to explain my no answer.

When I do need to muster an explanation I’ll say something like “It’s just not for me” or “I’ve spoke with Dominic and we’ve decided to pass”. I love the Dominic card because who’s gonna argue with a buff Italian? Another goodie is “My calendar won’t allow”. Or, if someone gets pushy with my no response, I’ll say, “Saying yes would be a detriment to my family” – argue that and I’ll sick the whole Italian mob on ya. Lastly, my personal favorite because in most cases this is truly my reason, “I can’t say yes and give it my all, so its wise of me to say no”.  Done and done. 

Have you found yourself wanting to say yes, but needing to say no? You’re not alone. I get it. Every single freakin’ day, I have to think hard about what I commit to. Little things, big things – they all eat up my time. This year, I’m aiming to put my learning to say no into frequent practice. I’m responsible to properly allot my yeses and nos so I can do the very best with each of my days. My kids deserve it, my husband deserves it, and guess what? I deserve it too. 

So, I’d encourage you this week to find something to say no to. Just say no and be done with it. It’s a practice that gets easier every time you give it a go. I promise.

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  1. says

    It’s so freeing, so incredible and miraculously freeing to learn to say no. I remember when I learned this lesson a few years back. It’s a great feeling when I know that I’m saying no to something because it’s better for me or my family than saying yes would be after all, for me, there’s not a single thing that is lor wimp it ant than to know my acceptance of something aligns with what really works or what I’m really willing to work at.

    Such important stuff. And yes, it gets so much easier over time and practice. :)