Saying “No”


We have changed our travel plans and will now be in Austin until September. I want to be close to my son who has MS, and is going through some changes.

He needed another set of ears, note-taking, question-asking, keeping track of appointments for him, and getting him to them. I should have said, “be his secretary and chauffeur,” shouldn’t I?

Things are now smoothing out for him, and thus, for me too. Now I can re-connect with friends. I can work with mentors to stay focused and on-track with my writing goals and my book. And I can visit one of my hairdressers, since I’m long overdue for a trim. 

 Confession: I’ve worked with so many stylists that I love, I flit around like a butterfly to catch up with each of them. I felt guilty at first, like I was “cheating on my hairdresser.” Rather than continuing to feel guilty, I told each one what I was doing, and why. Problem solved. And that ease, my friends, was a new feeling. 

I can’t believe that at this point in my life I still have a tendency to feel guilty when my decision may mean letting someone else down or disappointing them. I’ve struggled with this, especially when it meant that if I agreed to something I didn’t want to, I would be the one disappointed. Can you relate?

I could blame this on my Catholic upbringing, but heck, that’s such an easy target. I could blame it on a society that raises girls to be pleasant, which means always being agreeable and never being “selfish.” This was a challenge I was finally going to deal with. 

  • I would to learn to ask for what I wanted, and say “no” to what I didn’t want. 
  • To say “no,” without feeling obliged to offer an explanation. (“No” is a complete sentence, after all.)
  • If that felt too strong, I would say, “No, that won’t work for me.”
  • And then, I had to ask for what I wanted.

Of course, there are times when saying “no” is not possible… in my son’s situation, I was the one he needed to rely on. But, even in other situations, I’d feel like I was the only one who could do “XYZ.” Or, like everything was my responsibility. Again, can you relate?

 I wrote a chapter in my book on taking care of yourself first… in order to take care of others, and I wasn’t heeding my own advice. I needed to practice what I preached. Dammit!

I began looking at situations where I felt like a martyr. Yes, I’m going there… and I can tell you, it doesn’t feel very sexy to feel that way. Were these thoughts or feelings really true? Was there something I could do about the situation, like ask for help or assign another person to do it, or was just saying “no” a possibility? 

I’d made myself ill with all of the responsibility I’d taken on for my son. When I found out my son’s father (my ex) was in town, I decided we needed a family meeting. Both my sweetie and I had separate discussions with him, and he stepped-up in a big way. All I had to do was explain the situation and ask clearly for the help I needed. Ease happened.

Is there something you need that you aren’t asking for? Anything you don’t want, that you’re accepting? Look for ways you can take care of yourself first, in order to continue to take care of others. Then act.

Let me know the details of your success! 

XO Donna

5 thoughts on “Saying “No”

  1. Denise

    We never stop learning do we? The hardest lessons are when to say yes and when to say no and taking care of yourself to be able to care for others. You are working through it all with great insights and grace and I’m happy you are sharing.

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