The Power of Saying No


ShameAre you an over-obligator? Do you say yes to everything and everyone? Are you the person who can be counted on to do the work that nobody else wants to do?

There’s a lot of satisfaction and joy to be found in being of service and assistance to others. But if you find yourself becoming resentful and feeling used, maybe it’s time to reassess that helpful persona.

We have all been taught that it is better to give than to receive, that being of service is a great virtue. We don’t want to feel selfish, and we certainly don’t want other people to think we are selfish.

But where do we draw the line?

I wrote the text of this post on an airplane, on my way to a conference. I probably only half-listened to the safety instructions, we’ve all heard them so many times before. But it’s not trivial to hear, again, that we must put our own oxygen mask on before assisting another person. That child or elderly person we are responsible for will not benefit from our passing out.

Are you putting your own oxygen mask on? Are you eating well, sleeping well, making sure you have time to exercise and spend time on the things that bring you joy? If not, you are probably heading for burnout, and how will that benefit the people you are serving?

This is where a simple, little, two-letter word becomes all-powerful. To quote a former First Lady of the United States, Just Say No. In this case, not to banned substances, but to demands on your time and energy that are not important, and are draining your capacity to do those things that are. Let someone else make coffee, watch the grandkids or man the table for the community fair. It’s OK not to be the default person for everything. It’s OK to take the time to go to the gym, take a walk around the block or read a book with a cup of tea.

It may feel odd to say no to things you have said yes to in the past, because taking care of yourself is now a priority. But this is the opposite of selfishness – you are making sure you can continue to serve, help and support the ones you love, for many years to come.

If you find these posts helpful, I would love to hear from you. What would you like me to write about? Let me know!

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2 Responses to “The Power of Saying No”

  1. Troy Says:

    I think this is excellent advice and something I have only recently decided to do. My project this week is to say “no” to one event I’m dreading and one meeting/thing I don’t really want to do.

    No can be just as beneficial as yes.

  2. Hadass Eviatar Says:

    Yay Troy!!!

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