I never used to say no. A combination of people pleasing, avoiding conflict, ultimate team player and showing just how much I am capable of handling was what drove me. I was a master juggler – at any one time I would have a multitude of balls in the air. My mother once said to me “You’re doing too much” and I scoffed and told her that I wasn’t like her. Besides, I’d be bored doing one thing at a time.

This worked – until the day the balls started dropping. Hard to admit that perhaps my mother was right.

The first time I chose to say “No” was SO difficult. The word stuck in my throat. I had prepared myself for the reaction- and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I got more of a puzzled look than an angry one. And, true to form, if people are used to you always saying yes, they’ll come back again. And again I had to say it. And again. Until they – and I – really believed it.

For those of you who are not sure how to begin, or when to try it, here are some hints:

  • Trust your gut. If you have that feeling that something is not right, it probably isn’t. Your body does not lie.
  • If your plate is full, don’t put anything else on it, even if it’s something worthy/exciting/hard to say no to. If you really can’t say no to it, then take something else off your plate instead.
  • Life is short – enjoy it! Don’t be the person who is putting off pleasure “until you have time for it”. You may never have that time. Seize the moment!
  • If you haven’t said No in a while, start with something small, without much serious consequence to get into practice. Something like “Do you want dessert?” or “Let’s stay out later”. Try out different ways of saying it that feel comfortable to you.
  • Remember that No is a complete sentence. Many times no other explanation is needed.

Life is about choices. Saying no, when that is the right answer for you, is a self-honoring choice. You have the right to your own opinions. And, you deserve to live the life that makes YOU happy, not just others. Even if that means saying No.