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Learn To Say ‘No’! Your Time Belongs to YOU, Not Anybody Else

May 5, 2010 · 35 comments

in Life

This past weekend was incredibly hectic for us. Of course, it is our own fault.  We have 3 kids, all close in age, and each one has a couple activities.  I have basically turned into the mom I said I would never be.  (“My kids won’t play travel soccer”, “my kids won’t play more than one sport in a season…”)  I will never forget when I was a ‘new’ mom with just young kids at home and a friend of mine said she could not do anything in the spring.  I thought that was insane.  She couldn’t even go out to dinner one time for an entire season?

Now I understand…

Whereas the above example may seem a little extreme, I think my friend had it right.  Sure, she probably did have a few evenings where she could get away for a little while.  But she recognized that her time was precious, and she had learned the art of saying  ‘No’.

Each year of my life, my calendar seems to fill up quicker and quicker.  When I was younger, I tried to do everything anybody else wanted, except myself.  I was exhausted.  But guilt ruled my life back then.  I guess it still does to a degree, but I think I have a little better of a handle on it now.  I have backed away from commitments at school.  I don’t go to every Avon/Pampered Chef/Whatever party that I am invited to.   As much as I want to help others, I realized that for me to be a sane and nice mom/wife/friend/daughter, I needed to be a little selfish sometimes.  I had to remember that my happiness mattered too.  Too many things I have volunteered for started out as small commitments.  However, certain organizations just started asking more and more until I was completely burned out.  It is awful when something you used to take joy out of turns into a tedious task.   That is what can happen when you do not control your commitments.

It isn’t easy to say no.  It is a learned skill, but it is one you may need to acquire in order to save yourself.  I am not saying that when your best friend calls you up after a bad breakup you should say “sorry, too busy” and hang up the phone.  But just as parents learn to choose their battles, people also have to learn to choose when to say ‘no’.  It is unfortunate that for many of us, we have to go through decades of sacrificing ourselves to learn this lesson.

So next time an offer comes up that really doesn’t fit into your schedule, or you just flat out don’t want to do- decline it, and don’t feel bad about it.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Budgeting in the Fun Stuff May 5, 2010 at 2:58 pm

This is great advice. I’ve never had a problem saying no when I didn’t want to do something, but I had to be careful to do it in a way that wasn’t construed as mean (I’m pretty honest…sometimes to the point of blunt).

With the friends we have now (the ones that can put up with us), I don’t have to worry about offending anybody. We all value our time and come up with days that work for everyone when we can. Otherwise, we just shoot each other an email to test the waters and don’t have a problem if people are unavailable. It’s fantastic!

I love being an adult and not having to deal with immature drama-addicts in my personal life…well, at least not with our friends (I have some family that tend to that side).


Kris May 5, 2010 at 3:38 pm

@Budget- It sounds like you are in a really good place. As you know, you can choose your friends, but not your family! I have previously been pretty wimpy about saying no. I would feel bad afterward because I am a ‘pleaser’. Now that I am over 40, that ‘pleasing’ gene seems to have faded somewhat. I need it to go into extinction…


Money Reasons May 5, 2010 at 5:34 pm

I usually say “No” first, then cave later. Most of my family and friends know that so they’ll keep badgering me into submission…

It’s a little different now, although I only have 2 kids, they too are in many activities… So time is a limited resource 🙂


Kris May 5, 2010 at 5:40 pm

@Money- I tend to be a caver if someone is persistent, that is for sure. Also, 2 kids is plenty to keep you busy. Although we are outnumbered, we usually find a way to get everything taken care of. But, there is definitely some stress along the way.


Budgeting in the Fun Stuff May 7, 2010 at 10:56 am

Kris, I’m a pleaser too and family is my weak spot. Like you said, you can choose your friends, but family is a different matter altogether!

I get guilt trips from my mom and grandparents so often that I should have a billion frequent flyer miles by now. I cave. I always cave.

This is why I am so happy my friends are different. 🙂


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