On Saying No

I have this problem where I need to say yes to everything. Any volunteer list that gets sent around has my name on it somewhere. “Can you babysit?” Yes. “Ride to the airport, please?” Yes. “Drive my grandma’s body across the U.S.?” Sure. Why not?

90% of the time, I’m totally happy to help.


I’ve learned something that will require the next 75 years to perfect. And it’s made a huge difference in my happiness (for the better).

It’s this:

Say no without making an excuse.

Omg that is so easy. Sorta. Kinda. Not really.

Last month was the first time I really had to hold my ground. We had gotten home from work and almost immediately put on pajamas. We ate dinner in front of the TV and left our dishes on the floor while we pulled a blanket over us and turned on The Blacklist. A half hour into an episode, Brad’s phone buzzed. We’d been invited to games with friends. Not too long after, my phone buzzed. Same invite. Same friends. Brad texted back that we’d head over soon. I stayed on the couch and said, “nah, I want to stay home.” He started cleaning up the dishes and said, “are you sure? We haven’t been over there in a while. I don’t want them to feel like we don’t like them.” I held steady. “I’m tired. Can we just stay home and cuddle?” “I already said we’d join…” The roles totally reversed from normal, I knew the disappointment he felt in backing out. But I needed to practice saying no and not having a reason. So we stayed home free from excuses and obligations. It felt good. I felt really good. Empowerment and control over my life. Ah, what a feeling!

Saying no without an excuse will take time, I realize.. It’s uncomfortable. It goes against everything I’ve been taught.

What’s hardest for me is finding the healthy balance between things I have to do, like going to the gynecologist, and things I don’t have to do, like doing a 7am service project two hours from home. Service projects have always felt like a “have to do.” Socializing even feels like a “have to do” sometimes. But service projects and socializing are both things I have to want to do, or they’re be a huge withdrawal for me. If it’s dark out and my bra is off, going out with friends is probably not something I want to do.

Here are some questions I ask myself:

  1. Can I wear what I’m currently wearing?
  2. Would I rather read, paint, sleep, or stare at a wall?
  3. Does it require waking up earlier or staying up later than I want?
  4. Will any financial cost be reimbursed?
  5. Are they friends?
  6. Does our relationship consist mostly of my doing favors for them?
  7. Will they provide free food?
  8. Will the result be worth the effort?
  9. Will it improve my mood/well-being?
  10. Do I want to?

Here’s to more baby steps to becoming more assertive.



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