Saying ‘no’ is not always easy. It certainly wasn’t for me.

Young businesswoman sitting at the table and saying - No

It was agonisingly painful.


I used to find it awkward, embarrassing and I would want the ground to cave in and swallow me up. I would feel so guilty like I had committed the worst sort of atrocity, thinking that I would be letting people down. Most of the time that two-lettered word would lodge like a lump in my throat, unable to vibrate through my vocal chords.


And so I would say ‘yes’ reluctantly, putting my important tasks aside and eventually, burning both ends of the candle trying to please others and catching up with my backlog of work. Sometimes it would make me very ill.

It seemed an interesting phenomenon – I would help others, yet this was hardly ever requited. Others had no problem saying no to me – none at all, in fact.

Some would witness me struggling and not even bat an eyelid.

The injustice of it all!

On one occasion, someone I thought was a friend asked me to research accommodation for him abroad. I stupidly stayed up until 5 ‘o’ clock in the morning, doing a thorough job, even though I had to be up in three hours’ time. When I presented him with my findings (even as I did major battle keeping my eyes open through sheer force of will, and shrouded in a slumber-like state that enveloped me in relentless waves), did I get:

  • a smile?
  • a thankyou?
  • an acknowledgment?
  • any sort of indication to convey his gratitude?

You guessed correctly…




He just expected it.

This was part of the catalyst for my much-needed transformation.

Enough was enough.

I could not keep doing things for others at the expense of my own goals, sanity and wellbeing. After all, I have a life to live fully as well.

And you do too!

And ‘no’ is the great talisman to do this.

Saying ‘no’ is extremely beneficial, powerful and self-affirming. In fact, the more you utter this special word, the more you appreciate why. Obviously you can’t refuse everything (for example if you have responsibilities at work etc.) but there are many occasions where you can.

Saying ‘no’ allows you to:

1) Establish and respect your boundaries

Saying ‘no’ helps you to establish and reinforce healthy boundaries. Figure out what you will and will not tolerate. It increases your self-confidence and your sense of self-worth. If you agree to everything, some people will take advantage, preying on your inability to refuse. You are not a doormat so don’t allow others to treat you as such. Others may not be happy with your decision initially, but they will usually respect you for it.

2) Preserve your time

Refusing a request enables you to have more time to pursue your priorities, passions, goals and other things that are important to you. Saying ‘no’ provides you with more power to dictate your timetable rather than have others set one for you to your detriment. It gives you more opportunities to spend quality time with kids, partners, relatives, family and friends. Who wouldn’t want greater autonomy with how you spend your days?

3) Increase your happiness

The two-lettered refusal helps you to limit the number of tasks undertaken that you find depressing, boring, annoying or downright intolerable. Since less time is being spent on self-perceived negativity, more time is spent being happy, content and positive as a result. And this naturally helps to…

4) Limit your stress levels

If you refuse undertake tasks that cause your stress levels to spike, then you are more likely to remain calm and relaxed. After all, is it worth suffering the nasty possible side-effects (spots, eczema, psoriasis, migraines etc.) that you might have to endure?

5) Appreciate why successful people have mastered this art

Really successful people utter this two-letter word all the time. They have realised that saying ‘no’ to others empowers them to say yes to themselves, the pursuit of their own dreams and the fulfilment of their own priorities. You can’t achieve great things for yourself if you are constantly preoccupied with running around after others.


‘No’ is a sacred, magical and powerful word. Use it to take charge of your life.

The more you utter it, the easier it will become until it rolls comfortably off of the tip of your tongue.

Keep practising!

Credits: Picture by GraphicStock

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