3 Ways Saying “No” is Actually Helpful

Hi, can you do me a favor? I need just a bit of your help. You’ve got a ton of free time, I’m sure. You’re likely reading this thinking of all the energy you have, wondering who might need more from you; more time, more patience, more money. Isn’t that right?

So often, when we already have too much going on, someone asks us to do even more. And it’s someone you love, or respect or it’s your boss, so you can’t really say “no” even if you could muster up the willpower. This request probably conflicts with your calendar, your ideals, your energy level, or all of the above, but you say, “yes” anyway. Even although you’re at capacity, you commit. What the heck? Toss it on the pile, right?

Oh, my dear mom friends. It’s time to learn the power of “NO!” No, you cannot extend yourself any further. Despite your kindest intentions, no, your attendance cannot be expected at yet another event. No, your kids are not available to join another team, attend another party, or purchase the newest gadget. Yes, my fellow moms, sometimes the answer is “No” and here’s why.

Reason #1: No one likes a flake

Let’s be honest, people ask for your help because they feel they can depend on you. As a mom, you take care of home life, support your community and still manage to juggle other priorities. You wouldn’t be leaned on if you weren’t dependable (take it as a compliment!), but here’s the kicker. Taking on too many responsibilities can risk your reputation.

With each “yes,” you become less and less reliable for everything on your to-do list, including the things you care about most. So respect your top-priority contributions by setting up that protect what’s most important to you (and the people you’ve made promises to).

As a rule, never make decisions on the spot. Saying “yes” immediately just doesn’t allow you to think over your other commitments. When asked, respond by saying you will get back to them after you’ve had to time to take a look at your calendar. 

Reason #2: Our children benefit from boundaries

When children grow up knowing their parents’ boundaries – and learning to respect those boundaries – they mature into adults who are better adept at safeguarding their own physical and mental health. When you say “no” to outside obligations, you have more time to spend with your loved ones. When you say no to the excess in your child’s life, you have the opportunity to spend time together on things you both love: whether that’s exercise, community building or just making time fun.

Be direct with your kids about the family values that influence your decision making. When they understand WHY you said “no” to a trip to the amusement park (like to save up for a beach vacation), they start to see that you are purposefully choosing, not just what refusing.

Reason #3: Your “no” is a “yes” for someone else

We love to help, right? Well, what if our “no” was actually a help to someone? What if we look at our “no” as a “yes” for someone else? Instead of accepting yet another obligation, why not pass it to a mom who may see it as less of an obligation and more of an opportunity? She may really benefit from connecting with a new community or developing a new skill set.

You may be the best baker in your church, and you’re asked, every year, to bake your famous chocolate chip cookies for the bake sale. But it’s just too much this year. Saying “no” and allowing a new church goer the opportunity to contribute will ultimately strengthen your community and bring pride to someone else.

Pro tip: Keep a list of people handy so that when asked, in addition to declining the obligation, you can also offer referrals for reliable people who would do a good job in your place.

Look at it this way: saying “no” to all that extra stuff out there is really an opportunity to say “yes” to the most important causes in your community,  your loved ones and the person who often gets told “no” the most: yourself.

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