When is it Okay to Say No?

My first sassy little response would be... "Anytime I feel like saying no," but the truth is we've all been put in the position of feeling obligated.  We hear our mouths saying, "Yes" when our hearts are saying, "No." We see a need, we are asked to fill it, and Bam! we say yes and instantly regret our response.  Then we struggle with guilt.

I've been dealing with this struggle for some time. I hate to say no and feel like the bad guy. I don't want to be selfish or lazy or a non-team player so I say yes and find myself overwhelmed.  We took a much needed get-away last week. No phone. No internet. No people. Just each other in a quiet place. A place to rest and enjoy the gift of God's creation. It was just what the doctor ordered! The responsibilities met me as I walked back through the door when we arrived home, but I had strength to draw on. And, I had a new resolve to find some balance and peace in my everyday life.

Making time for ourselves is not something we think we can or should do, but it is absolutely necessary.  For years, on Wednesday night my husband went to a Bible study and I stayed home to have Kim time. Just a couple of hours, but it really put a lightness in my step. I was ready for Thursday and Friday. I could make it through the rest of the week.   Now, that I am semi-retired, I don't have Kim time. I let myself feel that it wasn't necessary. After all, I was semi-retired, any time could be Kim time. But... I never allowed myself to have it. I didn't think I deserved it and I felt that any extra time I had (I'm still looking for extra time) should be spent saying yes to everyone with a request.  I was wrong.

Saying no is not easy, but I am learning the importance of learning to set aside some time for myself. I am learning that saying no doesn't mean I don't care or I won't help, it just means that I won't allow myself to be forced to do something that I really don't have time to do just because I'll feel guilty if I don't. If I am asked to help with an event, but the evening of the event isn't convenient for me, I will say no, but offer to help in some other way on a day that I am available. In some cases, a simple no will have to do.

Saying yes sometimes carries over to our jobs (okay, a lot of the time). We feel that we are in a position to say yes because we lack the confidence and security to say no. Saying no to a boss is a lot different than saying no to a PTO mom or church member. It shouldn't be, but the truth is... bosses can make us feel extra guilty for saying no. In some situations they can even make you feel like your job depends on it. I don't know what to say about those situations.  Personally, a situation like this is when it was time to be slow in answering and quick on praying.

I can't tell you when to say no. Only you know your limitations. But, I can say that you shouldn't feel guilty or threatened when you do decide that the best response is no.  How you respond is your choice.  A wise friend told me years ago, " Your response is your choice, just make sure that you can live with the outcome." Good advice.

Have a blessed Easter. And, hopefully some time to rest.

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  1. Great topic, and so relevant to teachers. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thank you! Saying no is never easy. I think teachers especially feel obligated to say yes. But, then I am prejudiced :)


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