Saying no is never an easy thing to do. But it is absolutely a skill we need to learn and master.

Saying yes to everything is detrimental.

When I was younger, I would say yes to every volunteer opportunity that came along.

I would say yes to bringing snacks for the kids’ school.

When they needed a Brownie troop leader, it was a yes from me.

And when the Girl Scout troop needed a leader, I once again said yes.

Every time I was invited to volunteer, my answer was always the same. It was as if no wasn’t even in my vocabulary.

At the time, it seemed great.

But every opportunity I said yes to took time away from something else.

It’s important for us to recognize that for every yes we give, we are saying no to something else.

With only twenty-four hours in a day, those hours are divided between being a wife, a mother, a sister, a friend, a neighbor, a volunteer, and so many other hats that we wear.

Sometimes we give so many yeses that we end up saying no to the very people who need our help the most. This includes ourselves.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that not only is it important to say no—but to say no without feeling guilty about it.

Saying no builds confidence.

When we are able to say no without feeling guilty, it helps us to build bold confidence in ourselves.

We need to recognize what is most important in our lives. Then, we need to prioritize our time to make sure that those important things are what we say yes to.

Once we have our priorities straight, we can be confident when we say no to those things that are of less importance.

That confidence comes from the inside out because we will know what our priorities are.

In knowing this, we can set clear boundaries that outline what we are capable of and what we simply cannot do.

When we understand that saying no is empowering, we are able to look at it differently. And we no longer feel guilty about it.

We say no so that we can spend more time on the things that are most important.

Saying no allows us to take care of those things that need us in the moment and the important things we prioritize.

Saying no is a form of self-care.

I recently had a couple of volunteer opportunities that I turned down.

I’m also stepping down from a volunteer chair position that I have truly loved. Sadly, I no longer have the capacity to commit to it in the way I want to do the work.

I think a lot of people say yes to things, or stay in difficult situations because they feel guilty saying no or stepping down.

But the reality is that if we live in guilt and say yes when we should have said no, we won’t be able to keep up with things.

Eventually, we’ll start feeling worse about ourselves and resent the very work that should be bringing us joy.

It’s so important that we understand that it is okay and even necessary to say no to a lot of things that will come our way. In doing this, we are caring for ourselves and making sure our own needs are met.

Setting boundaries and saying we’re not available to do something that has been asked of us allows us to be true to ourselves.

Because when we say yes to too many things, we become completely overwhelmed and we lose valuable time needed for our own mental wellness.

By saying no, we are freeing up time for other things—like taking care of ourselves and those we love.

Saying no doesn’t have to be offensive.

When we say no, we can say it in such a way that it won’t be offensive to the other person.

Instead, it is simply a declaration of what our boundaries are and what we are capable of.

I’ve heard people say no in many different ways. This includes a flat-out, “No thank you!”

I’ve also heard it said in a very kind and respectful manner.

For me, the most powerful way is to start by saying something positive, then say no, and then follow up with another positive.

For example, “Thank you for inviting me to be on this board. I really appreciate you including me. However, I just don’t have the time to do what you are asking of me right now. If something changes in the future, I would love to be able to reach back out to you.”

You don’t have to use this exact example. But something like it will help to soften the blow of a no and help the other person feel appreciated.

The more you practice saying no, the easier it will become.

My challenge to you.

Time is precious and so is our own mental health.

This week, my challenge to you is to sit down and prioritize your time.

What are the things that are most important to you? Make sure those things get the bulk of your time.

If you are currently over-extended, evaluate what you are spending your time on, and consider stepping down or saying no to a current assignment.

Do this for yourself, for your loved ones, and for your own mental health.

Because time is something we will never get back again.

There are hundreds of thousands of things we can choose to do with our time.

But we only have twenty-four precious hours in a day.

Understanding this makes saying no just a little bit easier for me. I hope it does for you, too.

Time is so very precious.

What are you going to do with it?

Whatever you decide, I hope you never feel guilty again for saying no.

Because as I said before, saying no to someone else is saying yes to taking care of yourself and the ones you love.

And these should be our greatest and most important priorities of all.

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