Just Say No

When someone asks me to join them in doing something or going somewhere, I have always had a really hard time saying no. It’s especially difficult for me when it’s something that I actually want to do, but by saying yes I’m either spreading myself too thin or not making enough time for me. Whenever I’ve talked with people in my life about this little problem, it actually surprises many of them. I’m pretty outspoken and often stand up for myself in the face of controversy, so why should it be difficult to recognize when I’m overextending myself?

Even sitting here typing this right now, I cringe a little when I think about letting someone down by saying I can’t do something. I think a lot of this stems from the deep-rooted insecurities that are a result of being obese for so long, which I am still working through. Being heavy made me extremely fearful of rejection, because I assumed everyone would automatically reject me because of my weight. The last thing on Earth I wanted to do was actually give them another reason to reject me on top of my weight, so I’d just do or say whatever they wanted without giving much thought or consideration to what I wanted.


I still worry a little too much about what other people think, but I’m trying to get better about it and recognize when I’m doing it. When I started to turn my life around, one of the big things I had to tackle was being able to say no to other people so I could make more time for me. I don’t want this to come out wrong – I’m not at all saying that going along with what others want is always a bad thing, because sometimes that’s what being a good friend, girlfriend, daughter, sister etc. is about. However, there is definitely a line you can cross when you’re saying yes to others and no to yourself too much, and for most of my life I’ve been over that line.

But the truth is, sometimes you just have to say no.

If you could tell from the beginning of yesterday’s post (subtle, I know) – this week is a little on the stressful side for me. Work has been crazy – I’m talking nonstop to the point where I didn’t eat lunch until almost 3pm yesterday because I didn’t have time to stop and grab my lunch out of the refrigerator. I have a bunch of obligations after work this week as well, including working for Weight Watchers tonight, a going away party for my boss tomorrow, and then leaving early Thursday to go to Philly for Easter.

The one night I had the option of getting out of was last night, when it was a close friend from work’s husband’s birthday happy hour (say that ten times fast). I really wanted to go, but the happy hour was in the opposite direction of home and I knew I’d be out later than I wanted and far from home with one too many drinks in me when I was done. I had already told her I would go, but then yesterday as I was zipping through my day, I realized I needed to tell her I couldn’t make it and just take the night off.

While that might not seem like a big deal for some, I honestly felt like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders when I told her I couldn’t go and then realized I had a free night. And you know what I did instead? Stopped for a pedicure on the way home! Best decision of the day.

Do you have trouble saying no to people or are you generally pretty good about making time for you?

33 Comments on Just Say No

  1. Katie Photiadis
    April 19, 2011 at 8:36 am (10 years ago)

    Love this post!! I think you put it really well–we accept too many obligations because deep down we’re afraid of rejection. But as you said, it’s important, even necessary, to make time for yourself so that you can maintain your health/ sanity. Good for you for saying no!

  2. kristisn
    April 19, 2011 at 8:37 am (10 years ago)

    I definitely have a hard time saying no to people and I know that it stems from the insecurities I have with myself. I’m learning that it is okay to say no and that those people aren’t going to write me off because one time I can’t go where they want.

  3. Andrea
    April 19, 2011 at 8:44 am (10 years ago)

    Hi Beth! I love your blog. I have a quick question for you.

    I recently joined WW and I’m being really strict about calculating my points. I’ve noticed recently that the points listed through the WW “find” tool online are sometimes wrong. For example, I had a PP Smart Ones meal recently that said on the box it was 4 points. On the WW site, it said it was 5 points (when I did a search for the meal, not when I entered the information into the calculator). I’ve also noticed when searching that it lists restaurants meals at higher points values than when I go to the restaurant website and enter their nutrition information into the calculator. For example, I went to the CFA website and entered the information for a sweet tea according to their nutritional guidelines. According to the calculator, it was 3 points. According to the WW search tool, it was 8 points!

    What do you think of this? Which points value should I use?

    • Jamie
      April 19, 2011 at 12:09 pm (10 years ago)

      I know I am not Beth, but I think that you should go with the points value that you get from the nutritional information. Some of the smart ones may have the old points values on them and the restaurant information may be more general.

  4. Holly @ The Runny Egg
    April 19, 2011 at 8:46 am (10 years ago)

    I have a hard time saying yes to anything planned kind of last minute — if I know about it ahead of time I can make a decision if I want to go or not, but if you call me and ask to meet you in an hour, I’m most likely going to say no.

    I think it is great that you took the night off!

  5. beyondbananas
    April 19, 2011 at 8:46 am (10 years ago)

    I used to be really really bad at saying no the people.. and with some people I still am always accomodating my schedule so I can get somewhere.. by sometime. I am slowly becoming more able to say no – especially when it comes to doing things during the week…. happy hours, etc. My schedule gets really messed up if I alter from my routine. Being up at 5:15 every morning is no joke. I tried to go out to happy hours a few times.. and paid for it the rest day. I realize that my energy and ability to do things during the day is more important.

    Where I still have trouble saying no – is at work. It is tough to turn down extra little tasks.. but can also be taxing!

  6. definediana
    April 19, 2011 at 8:52 am (10 years ago)

    I know exactly how you feel. It’s like if I say no to someone (especially to a social type thing), I may just miss out on the best night of my life. In truth, if I’m already that tired, I shouldn’t be going out and won’t have any fun anyway.

    I faced a situation like that on Sunday, but I didn’t make the choice for me. Now, while I had fun out with my friends, I really wish I had that evening to just reenergize for this busy week.

    I’m glad there are others that feel the same way as me.

  7. Christine @ Merf In Progress
    April 19, 2011 at 8:53 am (10 years ago)

    I say no a lot. I think it’s party because I am a little bit introverted and prefer to spend time alone. But it’s also because it’s hard for me to get to things since I have two young kids. Once you start saying no, it gets easier. 😉

  8. Jennifer
    April 19, 2011 at 9:29 am (10 years ago)

    I had a hard time saying no for most of my life, too. I think I grew up always wanting to please, and not disappoint people, so I thought saying no automatically meant I was disappointing them. But, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that isn’t always true. I know there have been times I’ve had to say no to someone, and it did disappoint them, but most of the time, it’s not the case. And Christine (above) is correct, it does get easier!!

  9. The Teenage Taste
    April 19, 2011 at 9:33 am (10 years ago)

    I’m generally pretty good about saying no, but sometimes I feel guilty and say yes and then I really regret it later.
    It is oh-so-important to make time for yourself. As selfish as it sounds, sometimes you have to just think about yourself and what’s good for you.
    Great post, Beth! 😀

  10. thekitchenbitch
    April 19, 2011 at 10:00 am (10 years ago)

    I’m usually pretty good about having one night to myself, but once I get back to school (like now), it’s nearly impossible. I usually choose to hang with the friends I haven’t seen in forever the one night I have open instead. Unless, of course, you count the time between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. that I get to myself on the couch after class 🙂 It’s always nice and relaxing

  11. kerilyn
    April 19, 2011 at 10:12 am (10 years ago)

    (please excuse the LONG response! Feel so much energy behind what you spoke…)

    On one hand that totally surprises me about you and the other makes total sense.

    Your ENERGY and personality are very extroverted. I receive that as a sense of confidence in yourself and your actions. In turn, I am surprised at how much you might worry about what others are thinking/feeling.

    The other side is what you said about how you’ve REACTED out of being rejected by your previous body image. Makes total sense.

    How can you HONOR that side of you that is protective of being rejected (she still is there, wanting to still be protected), while STRETCHING outward toward practicing CELEBRATING your freedom of choice?

    You stretch before and after you exercise. (most of the time, hee) You know your exercising might make you feel great, or might make you feel sore… how can you use that example to see this as an opportunity to stretch out the former energy in you and engage with the new you?

    (In the poem that was read at my wedding, titled “The Invitation” by Oriah Mountain Dreamer speaks volumes to what I’m speaking)

    “It doesn’t interest me
    if the story you are telling me
    is true.
    I want to know if you can
    disappoint another
    to be true to yourself.
    If you can bear
    the accusation of betrayal
    and not betray your own soul.”

    It takes a LOT of courage to CHOOSE yourself. How can you honor that today?

  12. Ashleigh
    April 19, 2011 at 10:24 am (10 years ago)

    I used to have a hard time saying no but I don’t really anymore. I just got sick of doing things I wasn’t interested in. So now I am just honest and if someone invites me to something I don’t want to go to I just say no or suggest something different. Also this post is geared more towards saying no to things that you do sorta want to do and in that case I usually just try my best not to over book myself. I am not someone you want to be around if I don’t get enough sleep and ME time 🙂

  13. weightsandmeasures
    April 19, 2011 at 10:27 am (10 years ago)

    It is hard to tell people “no” if I do not have a reason I think is valid. I completely understand the fear of rejection. I am working through those deep rooted insecurities as well. I’m hoping blogging transparently, as you do and I do too now, will help me to sort through some of that. Ultimately I want other people to know they are not the only ones who feel or think that way. Hopefully, we can all realize the truth together!

  14. Liz
    April 19, 2011 at 10:46 am (10 years ago)

    I NEED downtime and alone time to function, so I’m generally good about saying no. That doesn’t mean I don’t feel guilty though.

  15. Amy @ Second City Randomness
    April 19, 2011 at 10:54 am (10 years ago)

    I used to have issues, but I’m getting better. I find it’s often easy enough to say something along the lines of “I’m sorry, it’s been an exhausting week”. Because it has. That’s not a lie. And I’d probably not be much fun… so really, I’m saving you from dull Amy…

  16. Stephanie @ The Cookie Battle
    April 19, 2011 at 11:23 am (10 years ago)

    I have a hard time saying no, but I’ve gotten a lot better about it the last few years. I think it comes with age too, and being more comfortable with who you are, what you like, and just knowing your limits better than you used to.

  17. simi
    April 19, 2011 at 11:38 am (10 years ago)

    “Being heavy made me extremely fearful of rejection” Holy sh8* So true… I deal with this issue all the time!!! I also love the little picture. Being insecure doesn’t make me a bad person. 🙂

  18. Jamie
    April 19, 2011 at 12:11 pm (10 years ago)

    I feel guilty saying no because I feel like I do it all the time. But I am raising a kid and have a full time job. Being able to go out for a happy hour involves finding a babysitter and I simply can’t do it last minute. I am tired of feeling guilty all the time because I also feel guilty when I spend time away from my son!

  19. Lisa
    April 19, 2011 at 12:28 pm (10 years ago)

    I can relate. Some friends didn’t understand that working out was important to me and they’d try to guilt me into canceling my gym plans to hang out with them. I would feel guilty saying no but over the last few years I’ve grown a spine, so to speak. If they can’t be supportive and understanding that’s their issue not mine. Sure I still feel guilty once in awhile. I will try to move things around to do both activities, but in the end I had to decide what was important to me.

  20. Ashley
    April 19, 2011 at 12:46 pm (10 years ago)

    I completely relate to how you feel when you cancel on someone or tell someone no. For me, it boils down to not making myself as important as I am (I have a hard time even typing that). Some nights, you just need to go home and have some you time and need to tackle a to do list. Be encouraged that your friends enjoy your company and that’s why they may be sad that you cancel or can not join but you’ll feel so much better if you take the time you need for yourself.

  21. Jen@jensdaily
    April 19, 2011 at 2:42 pm (10 years ago)

    I hate telling people no, but sometimes it just has to be done!

  22. Lisa @ lisalettinggo
    April 19, 2011 at 3:20 pm (10 years ago)

    I can totally relate to issues with saying no. I think it is because I feel the need to be perfect at all times and part of that perfection is being everything for everyone (and doing everything they ask me to do all the time). I am trying to improve upon this and learn to put myself first more often. Good for you for taking a night to yourself!

  23. Dee
    April 19, 2011 at 5:31 pm (10 years ago)

    Good for you! I have no problem telling others “no” and taking plenty of time for myself, almost to a fault. I perhaps err on the opposite end of the spectrum. But I am also one of those people who needs a lot of alone time in order to recharge my batteries- if I don’t have down time to be with my thoughts, I’m not a pleasant person to be around, anyway!

  24. karenlovescardio
    April 19, 2011 at 6:46 pm (10 years ago)

    Do for you girl!!!!! That’s my motto. I am such a people pleaser and it can take its toll on you physically and mentally. It’s okay to say no:)

  25. Katy (The Singing Runner)
    April 19, 2011 at 7:12 pm (10 years ago)

    Fantastic post. I definitely have a difficult time saying “no” but it is something I am working on. I need to, because I REALLY tend to overextend myself.

  26. happywhennothungry
    April 19, 2011 at 7:14 pm (10 years ago)

    I definitely struggle with saying “yes” a lot and taking on too many things as well! Sometimes, you need to just stick to your guns and have some me time. I’m glad that you were able to do that last night and got a pedicure too. Great post!

  27. Parita
    April 19, 2011 at 7:20 pm (10 years ago)

    Beth! I just posted about this very topic yesterday!!!! I am def. a yes woman but am trying to get better about prioritizing and balancing everything going on in my personal life as well as my professional life! Great post!

  28. Kalli
    April 19, 2011 at 9:29 pm (10 years ago)

    yes i do have a hard time with no but it has gotten easier with age. i think i have become more selfish with my time!

  29. Patty
    April 20, 2011 at 12:01 am (10 years ago)

    Beth… THANK YOU for posting this… Just this afternoon my boss and I shared an exchange of concern for one another in regards to putting everyone before our own well being… I never really thought before about “the why” behind why I did this….but you hit the nail on the head. I am new to the blogging community-I never realized that there were so many other people out there feeling the same things as myself. Thank you Beth for all that you are doing in this blog-you are inspiring people every day!

  30. Groff's Girl
    April 20, 2011 at 3:28 pm (10 years ago)

    My husband gets at me all the time for this. I hate saying, “no”. I never want to upset someone, I always want to please others. I am not good at making that “Sorry, I cannot make it” phonecall or comment!! I am seriously passive aggressive in this sense. It is something I really need to work on….glad I am not the only one!!!!!

  31. Hanna
    April 23, 2011 at 1:54 pm (10 years ago)

    Hi Beth,
    The other day I just finished your full review of Polar.
    this morning I tried Bob Harper’s cardio which is very hard core but even thought I sweat alot, polar watch says I didn’t burn any calories. do you have any idea? do I need wear chest band with watch? if so, I just wore watch!
    I want to hear your opinion!

    go girl beth!



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