Learn To Say “No”

Learn To Say “No”

by Linda-Ann Stewart

Years ago, I got caught up in too many outside activities. During this period, I was assistant secretary of a community organization that planned a yearly event, the secretary of a creative group that held a yearly contest, a member of an artist’s co-operative, attended classes, acted in community theater, and wrote publicity articles for the same community theater.

I was so stressed that I got very little sleep and my health began to suffer. Finally, I began backing out of some of the responsibilities. For the first time in my life, I had to tell people “No, I can’t do it anymore.” The head of the community theater group pleaded with me to continue writing articles, because “There’s no one else available.” I stuck to my guns, even though it was excruciatingly hard. And I learned that I wasn’t irreplaceable. Someone else did step in and write the articles.

An Important Skill

Learning when to say “no” is an important skill. For if you don’t establish what you can do and what you choose not to do, the world will take advantage of you. You have a right to say “no.” In life, there are always choices. When I wanted to be able to sleep and be healthier, I had to cut some activities out of my life. I then focused on a couple of activities that I felt were most important to me. In another situation, a person may decide they want to go hiking instead of going to a family dinner with their parents. You sometimes have to choose between what others’ want from you and what it is that you really want to do.

When I realized that I was resenting my involvement in so many organizations, I knew I had to let some go. I wasn’t doing myself any good. And even though individually they were activities that I enjoyed, I couldn’t give them my best. In learning to say “no,” I stated to the Universe, and to the world, what I was saying “yes” to. You can do the same. By saying “no” to some things or people, you’re saying “yes” to yourself and to the things that you choose to experience in your life.


I know that I always have choices to make in my life. Sometimes, I must choose between equally enjoyable situations. In other cases, I must decide whether to please myself or others. I now give myself permission to say “no” to conditions in my life that drag me down or that aren’t of benefit to me at the present time. I realize that as I say “no” to some circumstances that I resent, I’m saying “yes” to myself and to what I really want to experience.

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