Just Say “NO” – The Most Important Word


You have a decision to make. Someone has asked you to do something.

The “something” isn’t important.

Here’s a fact.

You don’t have to do it if you don’t want to.

No, you don’t.

Because if you plan to do it, and you really don’t want to, you’ll fall head first into this Vortex of Anxiety Thinking:

  • What if?
  • How will I?
  • I can’t do this!
  • I Do Not Want to Do This!
  • Why did I ever say I would do this?

I don’t know. Why did you?


Second Guessing

Then the Second Round, an onslaught of racing, ruminating thoughts that go nowhere:

  • Do I want to?
  • Not want to?
  • Am I expected to?
  • I don’t like this idea!
  • I have virtually no interest in this plan!
  • I have a million other things to do that are vitally important!
  • I’m confused, flustered, and now I feel… nauseous. I can’t make a decision about this!

How exhausting. You can’t make a decision, can you? Have you ever wondered why? Is your self-esteem low?


Let’s Get Honest

Let me ask you a question, just you and me. Do you genuinely want to do this thing? Be honest. Why, or why not?

Is that nasty trio of blame, shame and guilt guiding your decision? This is a nasty self-loathing trio that clouds judgement. And debilitates. And if this trio guides you routinely, you better find out why.

Don’t you have a mind of your own? I mean, hello in there!  Why the identity crisis?

If something isn’t up your alley, makes you uncomfortable, repulses, overwhelms, can’t be done, demeans, brings on abdominal cramps, truly doesn’t appeal in some way, why are you going to do it?

If you’re in touch with who you are, and what you need, you can take a proud and consistent stand on just about any issue. You won’t be prisoner to the endless whims, whining and (obnoxious) wills of others. You will be Free! Liberated!

Yes, there are times when you have to “do it.” You know those times. It’s the right, ethical and moral thing to do, so you’ll do it.  If you can.

In most cases however, if you don’t want to do it, you can say “No.”

This is pivotal to your feelings of self-worth and mental health.


Say It Assertively

When you say “No,” do so with strength. Do not suck, blow and waver. Just say “No.”

Then straighten those shoulders, chin up, stomach in, squeeze and pull in the buttocks…and move on.

Be aware of (but try to ignore) the paralyzing guilt that you may be feeling the first few times you utter this word. But be clear: guilt has no place here.

Notice the relief, once you’ve made a decision that works for you. Why did you tax your brain in the first place, you’re probably wonder. You knew the right answer from the start!

Why do you feel always feel obligated to please everyone but yourself? Don’t you like yourself?

Imagine a world where you can make your own decisions, like adults are supposed to do, and steer your own boat.

As the word “No” gets easier to say (and it does, with repeated practice) you’ll wonder….why didn’t I love myself sooner? Why did I allow myself to be ruled by the dictates of others, for so long? Oh, there are so many reasons. Read about one biggie, here.

So do it. Say NO. Do it often, do it with head held high. Go on!


Feel Good About It

This is your (short) life to manage, enjoy and navigate.

So remember these wise words:

“When you say “yes” to others, make sure you are not saying “no” to yourself.” – Paulo Coelho



This entry was posted on Friday, September 28th, 2012 at 9:00 am and is filed under Posts. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.



While I don't publish all comments, I welcome and appreciate your feedback and participation. If you'd prefer to keep your comment 'private,' please use my contact form (located on my website menu) and indicate this. I will happily respond to all comments and questions.

  1. October 12th, 2012 | Evelyn Jeanne Shaw says:

    Thank you for the sensible critique. Me and my cousin were just preparing to do some research on this. We got a book from our local library but I think I learned better from this post. I’m very glad to see such great info being shared freely out there…

  2. October 12th, 2012 | Deb says:


    Toddlers learn how to say “No” as a first word in vocabulary; practicing it over and over until we want to hit the road running.

    I’m not sure when we stop using the word and start feeling the necessity of doing all we can do (and then some). Probably when we became parents!

    It is time to bring back the word “No” to our vocabulary – and use it in its proper place and at the proper time.

    I used it twice after reading your post! …and felt good about it both times. I did, however, take time to think first so I would not regret my decisions.

  3. February 19th, 2013 | Mary Ann Varkaris says:

    I’ve had to teach myself AND coach my son Lynn on this topic. If I thought I was bad at saying no, he’s even worse. Sometimes when you learn to say know, you implicitly teach your children that they too have the right to set their own boundaries.

    As always Abby, I simply love your writing style. You’re just so full of chutzpah! Here’s to throwing back our shoulders and pulling in our buttocks!


  4. July 30th, 2017 | Jean walmsley says:

    Hi ABBY. As always,…great read and great advice! Why is it so easy to understand and not so easy to do? I set a huge boundary recently and am so greatly relieved to not have that person in my life anymore…..her choice. Pleased! But I had to get way pushed before I did it.
    I have never actually read your stress bubbles manifesto until tonite. It is a very catchy poster……you should market it as such??
    Hugs ABBY as you journey on. Jean

  5. August 1st, 2017 | abby says:

    Hi Jean:
    Yay! You set a boundary! I don’t think that it’s hard to set boundaries, we do it in simple ways every day. Close doors when we need privacy. Don’t answer the phone when sleeping. But when it comes to people, well, different story! I can only refer to my own experience and my latest post: “Why People Pleasers Avoid Setting Boundaries.” If a person is highly sensitive, a people pleaser, guilt-ridden (or any number of other things) saying NO or setting boundaries is scary! Don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings! Or get them mad, heaven forbid! Somewhere, somehow we were conditioned to put others ahead of ourselves, even when we are being trampled upon. And then one day, we wake up and get it! As for the manifesto, thank you!

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