Just Say, “No!”


Alright ladies, I need you to do something for me.

I need each one of you to sit up straight, put your hands in your lap, inhale deeply and exhale slowly. Next, I need you to muster up all the strength you can and say a word that has so much power it can literally change your mood, your mindset and the trajectory of your life.  

Say it with me ladies, “NO!” Ahhhh, didn’t that feel good.  Yep.

Now, let’s talk about putting this little word to use.

I’m a helper by nature. If I see someone in need, my first instinct is to find a way to lessen whatever their burden may be. I guess that makes me a fixer as well because sometimes I’m more driven by being solution focused as opposed to assisting someone with rectifying a situation.

I can’t help it. It’s part of who I am. And it’s also the main reason I was overwhelmed with life a few years ago. Having recently moved back to my hometown, I had a strong desire to affect change. I wanted to do all I could to make a difference. The problem was having this mindset, put me on the back burner and everyone else and every other issue at the forefront.

It proved to be a disaster. I was rarely home. I didn’t get to spend a lot of time with my family. I was missing out on enjoying some of my favorite pastimes. I got irritated easily. I was frustrated and wasn’t enjoying myself. All because I was doing too much. Entirely too much.

I had no balance. I thought I could do everything and be everything to everyone who needed me. I thought I was superhuman. But the truth was, I was giving away too much of myself. I can’t pinpoint an exact time when I realized this, but when I did, I knew I had to make some changes. And it started with one word: no.

When people started asking me to do things which left my mind spinning wondering how I would fit the favor into my schedule, my answer was “no.” When people asked me to do things which caused me to wonder how on earth fulfilling their request would affect my sleep schedule, my answer was “no.” When people asked me to do things that left me feeling squeezed, my answer was “no.”

“No,” became my BFF. And I’m proud to say that friendship is still going strong today.

I used to wonder why we as women have such a hard time utilizing this word. I used to wonder why it felt like we were doing a disservice when we used it. I used to wonder why we felt bad saying it.

Then it dawned on me, we are the backbone in so many places – in the family, at the job, on the kid’s soccer teams, for our friends, at our churches, in public, in life. We are expected to wear so many hats and wear them well that we become engulfed with weariness when we can’t juggle it all.

Let me let you in on a little secret. The word “no” is available for a reason. It’s available to provide us with options. It’s available to ensure we have a way out. Yet, we often opt in and are left with regret, tiredness and exasperation which could have been avoided had we just said, “no.”

I’ve learned that in order to truly live life to the fullest, we must harness the power of “no” and put it into action. Yes, I’m a helper, but I can’t help everyone. Yes, I’m giving, but I can’t give to everyone. Yes, I’m a fixer, but I can’t fix everyone. If I am present for everyone else then what do I have left for myself?

What I’ve learned is saying “no” doesn’t make me a bad person. It doesn’t mean that I don’t care. It doesn’t mean I’m selfish. It means I value myself and my time and I need to make sure I’m spending that time wisely. Saying “yes” to every chance to serve on a board or chair a committee or spearhead an initiative or even go out with friends will never yield me the results I need. If anything, saying “yes” so many times just leaves me exhausted.

What I’ve learned is that it is no surprise that we don’t want to say “no.” Women are naturally nurturing, caring and kind. Saying “no” leaves us wondering how things will get done and feeling guilty because we seemingly gave the wrong answer.

It’s time to stop wondering and start doing.

What I say is the more you say “no,” the better your life will become. “No” gives you the ability to live life on your own terms. Our lives have seasons. Sometimes we’re able to say “yes” more. Sometimes we are not. No matter where we are, we should always be aware of how our answer will affect us. How we live our lives is ultimately our responsibility.

Just say “no” and watch your life change for the better.

Kassaundra Shanette Lockhart is a freelance writer.

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