One of the most powerful ways to manage your time and stay in control of your own life, is to learn to say no.
Saying no is a great way to manage how you spend your time and take your power back.
Many of us don’t know how to say no because our parents taught us right from childhood not to say no, and this applies even more so to women. Girls are taught to “be nice”, not to make a fuss and basically to people please. With this social conditioning our whole lives, it’s no surprise that it can feel uncomfortable saying no and setting that boundary.
This social conditioning starts early. Many two-year-olds love saying no, but they are quickly taught that the word no is unacceptable.
But, it is time to take back the power of no and earn more time in your day for doing what you really want to do.
Saying no is not a crime, and no-one has the right to pressure you into something you’re not comfortable with, or to make demands over your time or resources, whether that’s emotional or material.
This applies to everyone – no matter the person, your partner, your parents, your best friend. Everyone should be willing to hear the word no, and to understand if you are not able to do the thing they are asking from you every single time.
9 Compelling Reasons to Start Saying No
Saying no is not always an easy skill to master, but once you start learning, life can get so much better.
Improve the Quality of the People in Your Life
Observe the reactions of the people around you when you say no. If you are not doing what they wanted, do they understand, or do they throw a tantrum?
If you tell someone no, and they continually push your boundaries and try to persuade you to change your mind, rather than accepting and having the decency to respect your choice, that’s a red flag.
Saying No More, Reduces Your Stress
One of the worst things about over-scheduling your time is the stress that it will cause. This can affect your overall wellness more than you realise.
Living in constant stress has so many physical repercussions for us, as well as mental, so it’s really important that we learn to respect our own needs and limits and make that a priority.
Learning to say no will automatically reduce your stress, even if the first few times you say no will be a little stressful.
The freedom you experience will soon overshadow the fear of saying no. It is worth it!
Be More True to Yourself
By saying no, when that’s what you actually want to say, you will allow yourself to live a more authentic life.
Wouldn’t the people around you rather know that when you say yes – it’s because you’re genuine and enthusiastic? Saying yes when you really mean no, does no-one any favours. It builds resentment and damages your relationship (whether as a couple, or even in friendships or family dynamics)
It is so much better to be honest and authentic and genuine.
Say No When Necessary – You’ll Be Perceived as More Professional
No one person can do everything. If you already have something scheduled and can’t do something, that is to be expected of a professional person and you’re actually increasing your perceived value by being less available.
When you say yes to everything, people will take that for granted and don’t value your time or appreciate it.
You don’t even have to provide a reason; just say that your calendar is full.
You’ll Improve at Things You Really to Want to Do
If you’re not spending time doing stuff you hate doing, you’ll get to spend more time doing things you want to do, and improve your focus.
That means you’ll get more practice and become better at the things you already love doing. This can only be a win-win!
You Get to Enjoy Spending Time Doing What You Want to Do
This goes along with the reason above. Do you want to enjoy the way you spend your time? Then allow yourself to prioritise in a way that is more aligned with your own goals, own preferences and own priorities.
It is not selfish to consider your own needs and own enjoyment.
People Will Respect You More
When we people please, it comes from a deep desire to be loved and accepted but actually it can have the opposite effect.
Generally, people lose respect for those who act like doormats. You may not even realise that you’re going to appear as a doormat; you’re just trying to be helpful. But even nice people will take advantage of those who say yes all the time.
That’s why you’ll notice it is always the same few people doing all the work in any group. The yes people.
Saying No Gives You the Opportunity to Say Yes
This is a cliche and may even sound counter-intuitive but it’s true.
If you learn to say no to things that don’t benefit you, or make you feel excited, then you will have a lot more time to say yes to things that do.
You Will Be Able to Commit to Things Properly
People who say yes to everything tend to do most things half way. They don’t mean to, but they get too much on their plate and end up not being able to do the tasks they agreed to do to the best of their ability.
If you say no, you can avoid this embarrassment and feel the accomplishment and joy of taking on tasks that you feel genuinely passionate about and doing them to the best of your ability without distractions.
Pause, Breathe Deeply, Check Your Calendar and feel free to say no without a problem, when someone asks you to do something.
If you have a habit of agreeing to things before giving yourself chance to consider, then even if it is something you know immediately that you do want to do, make it a practice to take a pause, take a breath, and check your calendar or schedule.
The act of calendar checking can give you time to give some thought to whether or not you want to say yes or no, before you reply or commit.
Saying no can truly give you back enough time to create the life that you really want to live.
If you’re feeling hurried and overwhelmed take the time to practice saying no more often. That way, you’ll take control of your schedule and feel like you get more time in your day.
Why Do Some People Find It So Hard To Say No?
There are many reasons why some of us struggle and find it harder than others to say no.
Maybe we have developed a people pleasing habit due to trauma, fear of abandonment, low self esteem, fear of conflict, wanting to avoid confrontations, not wanting to disappoint others.
There are all kind of reasons, and it almost doesn’t matter why. You could go to therapy to work through these reasons and deeper causes, if you feel like that is something that would benefit.
Once you recognise this problem, there is no need to blame yourself, just give yourself a push to make some changes.
Level up, and gain your power back.
A Few Ways to Say No Politely
We get it, you want to start saying no more but somehow it’s not that easy. Here are a few simple phrases you can add to your brain bank, and pull them out as needed.
Once you practice, it will soon become second nature
- I’d love to but I can’t.
- That doesn’t work for me.
- Thanks for thinking of me, but I have too much on my plate right now.
- I’ve got to go with my intuition and say no.
- I can’t commit to this as I have other priorities at the moment.
- I wouldn’t be comfortable with that.
And if you really find it hard to say a straight no – at least start small and buy your self some time with “Let me think about that and get back to you.”
Notice how none of these phrases include the word “sorry” because you have nothing to apologise for, for saying no. Don’t be afraid to own it, without the need to over explain.
Learn to Say No, And Take Back Control Of How You Spend Your Time!
PLEASE, Share this with the person in your life who needs to hear this message!
We hope it can be a resource to help you re-evaluate and take a minute to make a conscious choice before you reply, the next time you have the option of saying yes or no.
Anna is a Wales-based writer and graduate from SOAS University of London.
As the voice behind On Your Journey, she empowers women to embrace holistic well-being and spiritual growth through her expert insights into wellness and symbolism.
When she isn't writing thought-provoking articles, you'll find her busy crafting and raising her 4 children.