I Can't Say No To People And Other Myths To Dispel

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Many women say I can't say no to people. This is a myth. Learn how to say no to people with two steps and a just a little discomfort and change your life.

 i cant say to no to people

There Is An Answer To I'm Too Busy

In recent years the culture of incessant busy has been called out as unnecessary and something for us all to downplay and reject. Most of us agree that this is a win. But how do do we answer the I'm too busy call is a whole other question. On VProud there is an amazing video of Maya Angelou sharing the best advice she has ever gotten and given, which incidentally happens to be the not-so-simple answer to this question. We have to learn how to say no. Mother and writer Chris Carter reflects on this topic with the lens of someone who is right in the messy middle of learning how to do this. Take a look at Chris's thinking and process and then give it a try. We found that Chris and Maya are onto something here, and think that you will, too.

—The VProud Team

I'm too busy

Learning How To Say No

By Chris Carter For VProud

I am working on saying the hardest word in the English language, out loud. You know the one that makes you feel guilty and selfish if you say it? 


I have been challenged in picking the right times to use this word, despite my passionate desire to never use it at all.

I’m really good at saying, “yes.” But saying, “no?” Not so much.

I think most women have a difficult time with saying “no.” We are natural caretakers and passionate people who want to help, serve, invest, and respond to the needs of many. 

Because we seem to take on too many responsibilities and very rarely say “no,” we often feel depleted and lose sight of the most important priorities that need our time and attention.

There are so many people who have needs and when they request for help, how can we turn them down? 

There are endless opportunities that call our attention and beckon us forth with a, “yes.” 

Sometimes we are submerged in an onslaught of decisions that can break us into a million tiny pieces of fraying rags if we don’t use that dreaded word, “no.”

How do you set the boundaries of your investment in beloved friends, important organizations and events, school activities, philanthropic missions, social gatherings, etc. and feel at peace about letting some of them go?

It’s so difficult to discern which things to say, "yes" to and which things need a — gulp — "no." I struggle with the demands I create on myself by saying “yes” too many times, and it leaves me exhausted and stretched for time to commit to those things that matter most in my life. Oh, if only there was enough time to do it all!

But there’s not.

So for the past year I’ve tried to be more intentional about my response to all the various requests. Sometimes, I’ve even gone back and switched my "yes" to a "no" after thinking through the cost of the time and energy it would take for that "yes." I’ve felt terrible each time I backed out of whatever request was asked of me, but I also felt relief and peace in knowing that I had made the right choice.

There are pressing responsibilities and commitments to tend to in our lives that take much of our precious time and energy. I’m learning that if I can be more deliberate about where and to whom I say, "yes" to, I can prioritize people and opportunities in such a way that I feel fulfilled but not overwhelmed.

It’s a tricky thing to tackle.

What I’m learning as I navigate this choice more efficiently is that my ability to turn down requests and needs of others is difficult but necessary. Despite the disappointment I may feel and I may receive, I’ve discovered that having the courage to say “no” produces in me a new strength. 

This unexpected asset allows me to develop a comfort in realizing that I can't bear the burden of many and I shouldn’t feel that I am the only one who can. 

When there is an ask, perhaps your “no” may open the door for another person to offer help. Maybe when we say “no”, that in turn will provide a new opportunity for someone else to make a contribution with their, "yes."

We tend to think we are the only ones who can supply, provide, and give. But really, we truly don’t have to do it all. We are not the end all. We take on the pressure of thinking we must say “yes," but the reality is that we don’t have to say “yes” at all.

It’s never easy though.  I know.

But with more clarity, we may realize saying no is in fact a bold declaration that we cannot meet the needs of everything and everyone. It’s a clear commitment to discerning how we spend our valuable time. It’s wisdom revealing itself and strength rising up in the power of our answer.

Most importantly, it’s the ability to understand balance and purpose in our lives, and not affirm our worth with our response. Saying “no” does not make us any less of a person, or uncaring, unkind, un-invested, or un-interested.

It simply says, “As much as I want to help you with this, I simply don’t have the ability to do that right now.”

When we can make those tough choices, the space and time and energy can be used for perhaps a more important, "yes" just waiting around the corner.

Maybe “no” doesn’t have to be a bad word after all.

chris carter vproud
About the author: Chris Carter is a SAHM of two pretty amazing kids. She has been writing at TheMomCafe.com for five years, where she hopes to encourage mothers everywhere through her humor, inspiration, and faith.  She is also a regular contributor for The Huffington Post. Find Chris on her blog, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Google+. Join Chris's honest conversations on VProud.

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