Learning how to say no | Inspiration Indulgence

This morning in class, my instructor took one look at my sleep-deprived, makeup-less face and asked how I was doing. Something in me instantly broke, and I bawled. I literally lost it, out of no where. I totally didn’t see it coming.

Ugh, it’s been a long week.

Oh wait, it’s not even Tuesday yet…

I am willing to bet that I am not alone when I state that I am currently feeling very overwhelmed in life. Ever feel so out of control that you just randomly break out in a puddle of tears? Been there, done that, sister. And let me tell you, that’s a normal, healthy coping mechanism. But it still doesn’t fix the problem, now, does it…

With my fast-paced grad program, my new job, my internship, and wedding planning, I’ve been totally stretched thin lately. I’ve been finding that with each passing day, I’m impatient, irritable, negative, and quite frankly, not the most pleasant person to be around. In fact, this past weekend my fiancé was venting to me about his stressful day and I completely tuned him out because I did not want to add onto the heavy weight that I was already carrying with me. God, I’m such a horrible, self-centered person, I thought. I didn’t even have the energy to listen to his problems because I was so self-absorbed in my own.

Something has got to give, I reflected. This busy, crazed lifestyle is making me a negative, soul-sucking downer who is miserable to be around. Even I haven’t recognized myself lately. I’m pushing myself so hard to the core that I’m crashing and burning, literally breaking my back to keep up with the demands of society while accompanying everyone else’s needs….but my own.

Learning to Say No

I’ve always been a huge advocate for self- care, but I’ve been finding lately that it is so stinkin hard to make time for myself when there is so much going on. During class this week, my instructor asked us each individually to state one thing we wanted to be mindful of this upcoming week. We all went around in a circle and shared our weekly intention. My intention for this week was to take time to enjoy the crisp fall weather over the weekend, even if it was only for 10 minutes, and to muster up the courage to say no to others.

And boy, did I have my share of opportunities to exercise this challenge.

Saying “no” has been an on-going challenge for me my ENTIRE life. I have always put others’ needs before my own; I am indeed a people-pleaser. I hate the feeling of letting down others and feel like I need to do what everyone else wants in order to be liked. Yes, I’ll admit it. I just want people to like me. Don’t we all.

The first opportunity presented itself just a day later when I was asked through work to commit to something. I anxiously stated that as much as I love helping out, I was feeling really swamped with school, and could not commit.

It was in that moment that I became mindful of how HARD it was for me to state what I need. The guilt of saying “no” was practically more anxiety-inducing than the thought of trying to fit someone else’s need in my busy schedule. As soon as I stated my needs, I felt a rush of panic. OMG everyone is going to think I’m not committed! What have I done!

Once I mustered up the courage to say no, I realized the repercussions weren’t so bad. See! That wasn’t so hard, was it? So why do I constantly put myself through the wringer and dread saying no to others? Literally, my anxiety even thinking about saying “no” is so bad that it makes me nauseous.

Saying “no” goes beyond work-related commitments. I also exercised the commitment to myself this week by saying “no” when asked to fill a leadership position. Again, I immediately noticed my associated feelings of guilt and had to reassure myself that ultimately, saying no was in my best interest.

The world will keep spinning if I say “no” once in awhile. 

Friends, learning how to say “no” is nothing short of easy, but I can state with confidence that it gets better with practice. There are so many feelings associated with it, mostly feelings of guilt, shame, anxiety. Each time you exercise your right to say “no,” you are growing mentally tougher. Saying “no” is a crucial form of self-care. In order to be the best version of ourselves for others, we need to ultimately take care of ourselves first. For instance, how can I be an effective counselor and help others if I am constantly stressed, anxious and worn out?

To follow up on my other weekly intention, indeed, I did go for a walk this weekend, and it was wonderful. My fiancé and I visited the pumpkin patch, and I was able to savor a hot cup of apple cider while enjoying the beautiful changing leaves.

I learned this week that self-care does not have to be time-consuming. It merely can be in the form of small acts such as saying no, or taking a breath of fresh air.

Talk to me. In what areas do you struggle with saying “no”? How have you been practicing self-care lately? Leave me a comment below!


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  • Zana Djakovic

    I felt like that too, dear! I think tears are good for the soul, they heal in some way. As you know I’ve struggled with saying no too, but meditation helped me a lot. I am happy that you wrote this post! It’s inspirational and motivational! If one thing I have learned is that saying no is not an ugly word and def it is not a bad thing to say no. :)

    • I’ve been processing meditation as well lately, and I feel that it helps me be more centered!!

  • Kathleen Brown

    As women we are often thought fromantic a young age to say yes. That’s what we are told will make us kind. Instead this is what makes us stressed out mothers wives and friends. It’s okay to say no. Let’s teach our daughters this life lesson

  • Leslie Soto

    Oh girl! I’m right there with you when it comes to saying no. It gets easier to actually say over time but I still have that feeling of guilt every. single. time. I’ve been in the process of learning that I have to take care of myself before I can take care of anyone else and it is life changing!

    • The shame regarding saying no is the worst. That is definitely the hardest part.

  • I’m feeling that now! You put all my feelings into words. I definitely can’t say no, but I always say that I don’t need to please people. Nor do I need their approval. So, I’m still practising it and you’re right, it actually feels good to say no! And I’m happier.

    • Good for you, Karen! That makes me so happy to hear that you are happier.

  • Oh I’ve so been there. I had an epic meltdown with my BOSS at an event one night because I was so burnt out and had been melting down for weeks due to us being short staffed. You NEED to say no and take care of yourself first. I am glad you are learning to say no. It’s totally hard at first and you feel guilty but I also wind up saying yes to things and then canceling later because I just can’t deal and then I feel worse.

    Actually writing a post on self care right now – great topic.

    • YES!!! I totally forgot to add that portion to my post- so often I say “Yes” and then cancel later- that is not helping the situation!! Can’t wait to read your post! You should link it when you are finished.

  • Amanda

    I’ve definitely reached that breaking point a few times. I loved reading your post; so spot on and relatable. Learning to draw the line somewhere is so necessary, and I think we don’t realize it until we do break a little bit. You’re certainly not alone!

    • It can be such a struggle but it is comforting knowing that I am not alone!!

  • I TOTALLY relate! Like you said, the stress and guilt I feel for saying no is worse than just saying yes and resentfully making time to do something for someone else. I hate saying no and feel like I am letting people down every single time. But people say no to me all the time so I figure I need to start being selfish and doing what’s best for me because that’s how everyone else is!

    • That is the key, that people say no to YOU sometimes! We need to follow in their footsteps more. (:

  • I really can relate to this. We focus so much on other things and simply forget that saying no when we have too much on our plate is okay to do.

    I shouldn’t feel guilty about it – but I do. After reading this totally was nodding along with a lot of things. Especially the bit about where you felt self-centered because you couldn’t hear your fiance’s problems.

    Glad that you were able to find the time to get in a walk and relax for a bit. That is a lot on your plate.

    I think that I have an issue saying no to co workers asking for more things than I can give. That’s what I’m going to be working on. Hope you have a good week.

    • Saying no to work in general is the hardest for me as well, Chel. I want to be the “best worker” and I want others to think that I’m doing it “all.” But sometimes we need to keep our sanity, LOL! Thanks for reading!!

  • This is SO SO SO SO (so) important, Chels. We’re all guilty of it sometimes too, I think. We want to people please and “do it all” and society pushes that so often – this superwoman mentality. But it can have such bad repercussions if we’re not careful, and saying no is better for all parties sometimes!

    Coming Up Roses

    • Exactly. As much as we would like to say “no,” we are ultimately NOT superheroes, and we have to take care of ourselves first.

  • Carolyn Fennell

    I have learned a lot in the past couple of years of what to volunteer for and what to not feel guilty over. It is great. I do have a problem saying no to social get-togethers so need to work on not over scheduling ourselves.

  • Laina Turner

    I struggle with this all the time. I want to do so much, especially for my kids, and it gets me overwhelmed all the time. I need to learnt o say no more.

    • We need to remember that we cannot be the best version of ourselves unless we take care of ourselves first!

  • Melissa Chee

    I agree, it is SUCH a challenge to learn to say no

  • I 100% agree its so hard to say no! I have such a problem!

  • I have SUCH a hard time saying no! I always spiral into self doubt wondering what others will think if I say no to them. But I have learnt that when I do say no, I have more time to put more effort in to what I’m already working on or time to focus on myself!

    • Exactly. Sometimes we just have to worry about ourselves, not others. If these people truly care about you, they would want you to put your mental wellbeing first. That is what I always have to remind myself.

  • Elizabeth Johnson

    Great post! Saying “no” is so important. I know people who have become “yes” people and they are so run down because they over commit. I take joy in thinking I can do it all and I have to really ask myself if what I am being asked to do something I am passionate about that will bring me happiness. Thanks for the encouragement!

    • Thanks for stopping by, Elizabeth! I truly believe that we cannot be the best versions of ourselves unless we learn to cut back on commitments.

  • This is something I absolutely struggle with. I’m a people pleaser. I’m always saying yes. I totally agree with what you’re saying!

    • Aren’t we ALL!!!! Girl, we got this!

  • No is something I really have trouble saying. I hate turning down opportunities, but in the end feel stretched thin. I’ve been working hard on saying no. Not only does it allow me to spend more time doing what I want to do, but I feel like I’m able to do a better job of the things I take on.

    • Just being aware of it is the first step! You and I both can work on this together. :)

  • Neely

    I needed this today. I am awful at saying no

    • Good! I hope it helps you keep your sanity! lol

  • Jessica Bradshaw

    Yes!! This is so important. Learning to say no is what has been helping me keep my sanity lately. At times I struggle, but I know if I am half-way there I am not effective. Love your posts so (and your jeans too)

    • Aw thanks Jessica. I really do believe that it gets better with practice. Each time I say no, I find that it isn’t as hard!!

  • This is so true! I have a hard time saying no but I am surely working on it.

    xoxo, Jenny

    • It’s always a work in progress, isn’t it!

  • I love this, Chels! I’ve been trying to get better about saying no to things!

    • It can be so hard. Thank you for taking the time to read!

  • Yes, as a mom I have found this to be incredibly important. There is just so much I already have to do and saying yes to everything only makes me a stressed out angry mess.

    • Exactly. Saying “yes” will ultimately cause more trouble!

  • Samantha Kinzie

    I so agree with this article. Self-care is so important and a part of that is setting boundaries and learning when to say no!

    • Totally. Thanks for reading!

  • I totally agree, sometimes it’s so hard to say “no”. Boundaries are our friend but sometimes it seems easier in the moment to comply. In the long run , “no” is best so often. Wish it was easier to say no! Haha!

  • Totally agree. Sometimes we want to please other so we automatically commit, but often times enough we say “no” to our own self quite often!!!

    Meghan | BeyondBasicBlog.com

    • I wish there was an easier answer!

  • kandja sylla

    You’re right about saying “no”, it is a part of self-care. I sometimes have a hard time doing that (I’m sort off a “people pleaser”) and find myself being overwhelmed later. Thanks for this post Chels. xx


    • So happy it inspired you, babe!

  • Carly Ferguson

    This is such a great post! I can totally relate to everything you said. The time that i was planning a wedding, bought a house and trying to stay connected to people and thrive at my job felt exactly how you feel now. I hated the person I became when I let all of that stress get to me. One piece of advice I can give you is to reach out for help! I don’t know about you, but I tend to want to do it all, but I’ve had to learn to ask for help and let others in to keep my sanity. Sending love and hugs your way!

    • I am so happy you can resonate (but sad to hear you were so stressed!!) Carly, that is such great advice. And I have been asking for help lately, and it honestly makes all the difference in the world!! Your support means the world to me. Thank you. <3

      • Carly Ferguson

        Of course! Hang in there. It’s a season of life that you will be able to learn from (only speaking from experience here!) xo

      • <3

  • Kendra

    I totally understand this! I know I have had more than one ‘loose my shit’ moments last year. After that I have been trying harder to say “no” to take better care of myself. Thanks for sharing!

    • Right! In those moments you truly learn how bad you’re struggling and how important it is to say NO