Yes, You Can Say ‘No’ and Not Feel Guilty

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Yes, You Can Say ‘No’ and Not Feel Guilty

When was the last time you told someone ‘no?’ Think about it. If you can’t remember, it may be time for a change. When we say ‘yes,’ we’re agreeable. We’re good people – thoughtful, caring, loving. Well, guess what? We are still good people when we say ‘no.’ We don’t always have to say ‘yes’ – whether it’s to our families, friends, or even at work – we do have the power to say no. Yes, you can say ‘no’ and not feel guilty!

Want to know how to do it and still feel like the thoughtful, caring, loving person you are?

Read on, my friend. Read on.

Lose the Guilt and Say No

self care isn't selfish
Say ‘Yes’ to Self-Care

I know – it’s hard to say’ no’ because it’s in our nature to want to be accepted and liked by people. Some of us are also people pleasers. We don’t want to upset anyone or rock the boat. In our minds, it’s better to say ‘yes,’ even if that means putting more on our plates than we can handle.

We’re afraid to say ‘no’ because:

  • We don’t want to disappoint family, friends, co-workers.
  • And we certainly don’t want to come off as being selfish.
  • We don’t want to hurt other people’s feelings.

Yes, it’s noble to be helpful, but if you don’t have time to focus on taking care of your needs first – what’s important to you (work, downtime, starting that best-selling novel?), then guaranteed you’re going to start feeling resentment setting in, along with a gut-busting side of stress. Saying ‘yes’ when you really mean ‘no,’ doesn’t benefit anyone. Am I right?

And so yes, you can say ‘no’ and not feel guilty.

Self-care alert! Taking care of your needs first makes you a nicer, kinder person, and if that means saying ‘no’ sometimes, then say ‘no!’

Yes, You Can Say ‘No’ to Family and Friends and Not Feel Guilty

just say no and don't feel guilty
The Answer is No

It’s hard to say ‘no’ to family and friends. We love them. And we want the best for them, and we want to help them out whenever we can. We also worry about the consequences of saying ‘no’ to our loved ones.

  • Will they be upset? 
  • And will we never hear the end of it? 
  • Will friends hold grudges?

But the truth is that our friends and family (if they truly care about us) will understand if we have to say ‘no’ from time to time. And people, let’s exhibit a little positive self-esteem and realize our own worth.

How to Say ‘No’ and Not Feel Guilty

1) Be Honest

Don’t make up an excuse. Try not to sugarcoat it. Just be honest about why you’re saying ‘no.’ You’re busy. You’re tired. You have things to do. Chances are, your friends and family will understand. Most will appreciate your honesty. For example, a friend recently asked me about joining a committee, and I told her I wanted to focus on other interests. While I appreciated her asking me, I didn’t want to commit the committee would entail. And guess what? She understood and moved on to ask the next friend.

2) Delay Your Answer

If you’re the type of person who tends to say ‘yes’ when asked for something face to face, one way to get around this problem is to give the family member or friend a ‘maybe’ or a ‘possibly,’  and that you have to check your schedule before you answer. This will give you some breathing room. When they send you that inevitable text – well, can you? – it’s easier to say ‘no’ via text than in person. (OK, you might think that’s a wimpy way out, but it is a way out – so there!)

3) Offer An Alternative

Let’s say your friend wants to go to a socially distant get-together with a group, but you’re still not comfortable with that idea. However, you would like to spend time with your friend. Offer an alternative. Perhaps suggest taking a walk in the park – just the two of you, to catch up. 

Yes, You Can Say ‘No’ at Work and Not Feel Guilty

yes you can say no at work and not feel guilty
Say ‘No’ to Taking On too Much

Saying ‘no’ at work can be difficult, too. Sometimes we may take on tasks we don’t really want to do because we don’t want to upset anyone or put our jobs in jeopardy. We may accept a job that really doesn’t further our careers. We may take on more work than we can handle. 

But even in our professional lives, it’s still important to say ‘no’ when it doesn’t serve us. Successful people in business know when to say ‘no.’

How to Say ‘No’ and Not Feel Guilty at Work:

1) Explain That You’re Not the Best Person for the Job

Sometimes, a task or a project isn’t up your alley or your area of expertise. Be open and honest. Tell your boss that this isn’t your specialty or you aren’t a great fit for this project. Recommend another colleague. Maybe you know someone who would be perfect for the job. Your rejection is far more likely to be well-received if you can offer a solution.

2) Be Specific About Why You Can’t Commit

When saying ‘no’ in the workplace, it’s often best to give a reason for your answer. Something as simple as, “Thanks for considering me for this project, but my schedule is booked up for the next two weeks.” 

3) Be Honest But Don’t Go Overboard

Just as with family, honesty – or as close to it as you can get to it – is the best policy. You can have a personal life, a family life, and admit you have plans and can’t make that after-hours meeting.  

Don’t Feel Guilty for Saying ‘No’

yes, you can say no and not feel guilty
The Answer is No

Always remember, you shouldn’t feel guilty for saying ‘no.’ You are not selfish for rejecting a commitment because you don’t want to do it or because you have too much on your plate. You are taking care of yourself.

That doesn’t mean that you should always say ‘no.’ I mean, don’t you need favors sometimes, as well? But, you can’t be the best version of yourself if you don’t have time to take care of your personal needs.  And that’s the truth.

So yes, you can say ‘no’ and not feel guilty. And guess what? In time, it gets easier to say ‘no.’ 

How about you? Are you a people pleaser, or have you learned to say ‘no’ and not feel guilty?

No Can Do!

Thanks so much for reading this and for being here. I’d be so appreciative if you’d share this post, my site, and boutique with others. Take a quick sec and email this link. And sign up yourself if you haven’t already! (Maybe someone emailed you this post!) Just takes your email address, and you’re in! It’s free!

Oh, and don’t forget, if you purchase something from this post, I may earn enough to one day buy a cup of coffee (tall) from Starbucks! Which reminds me!

Here’s a small request. Please stop by Shopping with Gigi. What? Did you say ‘no?’ Well, I won’t take no for an answer! You must proceed immediately to Shopping with Gigi. I mean, Have you seen our newest masks? Hysterical! And check out these hand sanitizers! Wait, why are you still here? Click, click, click!

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  • Reply
    Rosemary Davis
    March 21, 2021 at 10:43 am

    Great post Gwen!

    Yes, we must say “No” to some things so that we can say “Yes” to what is important in out lives.
    Sadly, we must accept the fact that our time is limited and we must spend it wisely.


    • Reply
      Gwen Gottlieb
      March 22, 2021 at 9:05 am

      Exactly right, Rosemary! Thanks for reading! xoxo

  • Reply
    jess jannenga
    March 22, 2021 at 10:20 am

    First, love your dress, great colors on you! Second, I love your points here. We shouldn’t feel guilty for saying no. I love the idea of offering an alternative, or not answering right away. Honesty goes a long way in saying no as well.
    Enjoy your day!
    jess xx

    • Reply
      Gwen Gottlieb
      March 22, 2021 at 12:33 pm

      Honesty absolutely goes a long way! Happy Monday! xoxo

  • Reply
    Michele Linton
    March 22, 2021 at 11:33 am

    This is spot-on Gwen! I’m a people pleaser for sure! I’m starting to learn how to say no, but I still struggle with it. Thank you for this post – it’s just what I needed!

    • Reply
      Gwen Gottlieb
      March 22, 2021 at 12:33 pm

      It gets easier the more you say it, lol! xoxo

  • Reply
    Kim Whitten
    March 22, 2021 at 9:29 pm

    My Southern guilt kicks in when I want to say “no”, but the older I get the easier it is to say that two letter word. This is a great post and I especially loved your work suggestions. Pinning this. 🙂

    • Reply
      Gwen Gottlieb
      March 22, 2021 at 9:37 pm

      Thank you, Kim! I’m getting better at saying ‘no,’ too!

  • Reply
    March 23, 2021 at 12:16 am

    As women we do try to please even if it’s not always in our best interest and I am so guilty of this. Thank you for your suggestions!

    • Reply
      Gwen Gottlieb
      March 26, 2021 at 9:58 am

      You are so welcome!

  • Reply
    March 25, 2021 at 10:46 am

    I’m called the Queen of Boundaries! Great post. I always wait to say yes. Even when I am sure. Can’t hurt.

    • Reply
      Gwen Gottlieb
      March 26, 2021 at 9:57 am

      Now that’s what I call smart!

  • Reply
    jodie filogomo
    April 2, 2021 at 11:14 pm

    This is so good. I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to get over to your blog Gwen!!!
    It’s been a struggle to say no, especially to people I like. While I’m still not good at it, I am better at offering options instead!! Sometime, LOL

    • Reply
      Gwen Gottlieb
      April 3, 2021 at 8:20 am

      Hi Jodie,

      Offering options is a terrific thing to do, but try saying no once, and you’ll see – it does get easier! Thanks for reading. xoxo

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