Why Saying No Is SO Important

Why is such a tiny word so hard to say?

Are you a recovering people pleaser like me? Do you feel like people won’t like or love you if you become less of a pushover and stop saying “yes” to everything? Do you feel like you literally don’t know how to say “no” when someone asks something of you? If so, I’m here to explain to you why saying NO is so important. And if you don’t KNOW how to say it, well…

Buckle up, buttercup – school is now in session.

First of all before I get into the magic of the word “no”, welcome back to my blog! I know it’s been awhile but this is what happens when one doesn’t know how to say “no”. What do I mean? Let me explain, and before I go any further, this isn’t anyone’s fault but mine. However, there is a silver lining in all of this; three great big lessons about the word “NO” and why it’s so important to say it.

First, you say no. Then? You got to let it go.

So recently I got invited to work on a project. Unpaid, mind you, but I agreed as a favor to a friend. I didn’t really want to get involved, but that’s people pleasing for you. By the way? ALWAYS THINK ABOUT SOMETHING BEFORE COMMITTING, even if you think it sounds good at first. I didn’t do that and it bit me in the ass.

Yep. Just like this.

Anyway,when asked to do said project, I thought it was going to be one of those down-the-road-someday things I could easily get out of at a later date. Full disclosure here? I am a champ doing the waffle rather than saying a flat no. That’s my bad, and I should’ve said no in the first place. So needless to say when pressed about doing said project that coming week rather than sometime in the future, my heart sank.

But since I committed myself, I figured I’d just suck it up, do the project, and get it over with.

I most certainly did not wanna. But I committed myself so my integrity was at stake.

Problem: said project took up a lot more time than I expected. A week and a half to be exact. Not just for the project itself, but prep time, and worrying about how I was going to get my part accomplished to the point where everything else suffered, including my writing. In other words, I was over extended. Now I think a lot of people think because I’m a housewife, I have all the time in the world for whatever they ask of me.

Newsflash: I don’t. How I spend my time is my business. AND, my time is for ME, my husband, my mom and my pets. But more on that at a later date. At any rate, I did the project and drew a deep breath. I was finished!


I found out that the project had to be redone.

Friend asked for a mulligan, and I HAD A PRIME OPPORTUNITY TO SAY NO! Did I? Of course not! So instead of saying no, my people-pleasing instincts kicked in and I agreed to a do-over. Thus, I wound up sweating through ANOTHER week and a half of rescheduling, prep, and anxiously dreading something I didn’t want to do in the first place. Of course, I didn’t let on to my friend how I was feeling. Why? Because I didn’t want to let a friend down or hurt their feelings AND I had committed myself the FIRST time. Luckily, the second time said project went off without a hitch, and I thought I could breathe easy.

Long story short: the anxiety, prep, and doing of something I didn’t want to do managed to suck up three weeks of time that I could’ve spent on stuff I actually wanted to do.

This is why saying NO is SO important.

Then on top of everything Friend immediately turned around and started orchestrating ANOTHER project of the same caliber. Once again I agreed out of wanting to people please, but in the end, I didn’t do it. Finally, I got up my nerve, and said the word I was DYING to say in the first place:

Easy for you to say, Mr. Sloth.

But wait, I couldn’t just say “NO.”

I had to justify my “NO” with all the reasons I didn’t want to do it. I am low energy to begin with and I hadn’t been feeling well and so on. Then, the people pleaser in me had to throw in a “when I’m feeling better, maybe.”

So let me then expound on Lesson Number One in the today’s class on Why Saying No Is So Important:

Drop the justification. No means no. There is no WHY, just NO.

Little harsh, Yoda, don’t you think?

Unfortunately, harsh or not, Yoda is right. Quantifiers and justifications eradicate your “NO” and turn it into a “maybe”. That “maybe” will then (if you haven’t worked on dropping your people-pleasing tendencies like I’m learning to), will undoubtedly turn into a solid “yes.”


But, do you see how that works? This, then, brings me to lesson number two in Why Saying No Is So Important 101.

Say it with me, kids.

Quantifiers and justifications eradicate your “NO” and eventually turn it into a “YES”.

This is why saying “NO” is so important. And not just saying “No,” but resisting the urge to add justification to your “no.” Here’s something else. Unless you’re getting paid, you owe ZERO explanation to anyone of what you do with your time and energy. That’s hard to say to people, though, believe me I know. I am the worst when it comes to explaining myself to soothe the little voice inside my head sniping,

“If you say no and don’t explain yourself, they’re going to talk sh*t about you and tell every person on the planet exactly what kind of assh*le you are!”

This isn’t true, but my brain sure thinks it is. Which brings me now to the third and final lesson of today’s lecture. What is it? This is a big one – are you ready?

Give yourself permission to say “NO” to anything or anyone clamoring for your time and energy, including yourself.

Maybe I’ll use cue cards next time.

What? Yes, I said even yourself. It seems like it’s human nature: even if we can say “no” to other people, we can’t seem to extend that grace to ourselves. Take fitness for example. I will routinely push myself to the point of injury. Why? Because my brain is telling me I should work out. Instead of telling myself, NO, I’ll keep pushing myself. Even when my body is screaming, “NO I’VE HAD ENOUGH AND IF YOU KEEP PUSHING ME I’M GOING TO F*CKING DROP.”

And sure enough, I dropped. I hit a wall last Wednesday and am still recovering from over-exercise. See how this works?

It’s okay to say NO to yourself, too.

Thus we have a prime example of lesson number three. It’s okay to say no to yourself, so you can check yourself before you wreck yourself, like I did here recently, ha ha. Right now like I said, I’m on the injured list from over exercise. And to add insult to literal injury, I was mentally beating myself up over once again pushing too hard until a realization came to me:

It’s not a let-down to set healthy boundaries inside your mind and heart.

So what has this recovering people pleaser learned?




To quote Dr. Seuss in relation to this, “those who mind, don’t matter, and those who matter, don’t mind.”

As for me?

If people get mad at me for saying no, then they do. I’m done caring. My people pleasing days are over.

To conclude, a good friend of mine recently reminded me that time is the most precious currency we have. Why so precious? Well, once such currency is spent, we never get it back. So why would we waste such a precious currency on things we don’t want to do? And that, my friends, is where your old pal “NO” comes in. Saying “NO” is a vital means of self-care and THAT is why saying NO is so important.

Final thought? You don’t owe anyone any explanations, quantifiers, or justifications for using the word “NO” as a means to protect the time and energy of the person that matters most in your life – YOU.

Lecture over, class dismissed.

Thanks for reading,

Meredith Silverman

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