11 Ways To Say No (And Be A Happier, Healthier Person)

You’re stressed. You’re frazzled. You’re exhausted.

Does this sound like you? And do you make up reasons for why you feel like that? Or should I say, excuses? 

Everyone feels like they are a victim of their hectic and busy life. But guess what? You are in control.

You have the power to design your life exactly the way you want it to be. You just need to learn how to say no so you can achieve more balance and inner peace in your life.

Here are some ideas for you.

say no

How To Stop Being So Busy

1. Don’t worry about what other people think of you.

Let’s face it: most people are worried about “public perception.”

But why? Why do you feel the need to live up to other people’s expectations? Are they living your life? No. You are.

Related: If You Want To Live Life On Your Own Terms, You Need To Stop Thinking These 4 Things

Don’t worry whether they think you’re not on the top of your game, or that you aren’t perfect, or that you look selfish. All you need to worry about is what you think of you.

2. Before you accept any invitations, make sure you really want to go.

Maybe your second cousin invited you to her son’s big 16th birthday bash. Or your “energy vampire” friend needs more advice about her toxic relationship.

Stop and think about whether you actually want to commit to these things. Maybe you do, maybe you don’t.

But the point here is that you need to only accept invitations that make you happy and excited, and say no to the ones that don’t. All the rest should be placed aside with a polite “thank you, but no thank you.”

3. Abandon your need to be ‘perfect.’

In my humble opinion, perfectionism should be named as a psychological disorder (not that you asked). I don’t mean to insult anyone who labels themselves a perfectionist; in fact, I can be one myself from time to time.

Related: 5 Things That All Perfect Couples Do

But guess what? What is “perfect?” Nothing and no one. Perfectionism is just an illusion that people chase. It’s not real. It’s just this unattainable goal that keeps eluding us all.

So stop chasing it. Just be happy with who you are! Take the pressure off of yourself and strive for excellence, not perfection. Believe me, there is a difference.

4. Don’t worry about hurting other people’s feelings.

Many are conditioned to want to make other people happy. We don’t want to be mean. We don’t want someone to feel bad because of our actions.

However, remember this: no one is responsible for anyone else’s feelings but their own. As long as you act kindly, speak with love, and have good intentions, you don’t have to worry. If people get offended, then it is their problem, not yours.

Related: 6 Ways To Become Happy

We all need to take personal responsibility for our feelings, not blame others. So detach from thinking you need to make everyone happy. You don’t.

5. Don’t buy into societal pressure to “keep up with the joneses” (or “the Kardashians”)

In the United States, we live in a culture of excess. From constant celebrity tabloid gossip to feeling like we’re “nothing” if we don’t have a bigger house, a nicer car, or go on better vacations that the “Joneses.”

Again, it’s all an illusion. Just because your 3-year-old isn’t a soccer superstar yet, well, that doesn’t mean that you’re a failure as a parent. Who cares?

6. Be selfish.

No one wants to be labeled as “selfish.” But taking care of yourself is called ‘self-love.’

Related: If You Truly Value Yourself, Then You Need To Stop Saying These 4 Things

If you do nothing but give, and give, and give, and then give some more, your tank is going to run dry very quickly. And when your tank is dry, you can’t give any more.

Sometimes, you need to refill your tank. And that means you need to say ‘no’ to obligations that zap your rejuvenation time.

7. Don’t impulsively and habitually say ‘yes.’

There have been times in my life where I said yes only out of habit or because I thought I should.

I’ve said yes to a promotion – when I later realized I really didn’t like the type of work I would have to do.

I’ve said yes to taking on a major project that I had no experience or training with only to realize later that I hated it.

It’s okay to take time to think. In fact, it’s imperative.

Related: 5 Tips For Getting Your Dream Job

8. Focus on your feelings – does it make you feel good or bad?

Let your feelings guide you. Get out of your head. Does your chest tighten up when you say yes to a commitment?

If it does, cancel. Pay attention to your feelings. Don’t rationalize too much. If it feels like too much, then it probably is. Say no.

Don’t try to talk yourself into or out of something that your intuition tells you isn’t right.

9. Don’t prioritize your schedule, schedule your priorities.

Some people live and die by their schedules. Honestly, I am one of them. But not for the same reasons as other people do.

I live by my schedule only to make sure I arrive on time and live up to the obligations I have willingly and joyfully committed to. Look at your real priorities.

10. Know that being busy doesn’t always equal happiness or success.

Sometimes people confuse “busy-ness” with achievement. I know plenty of people who are constantly busy but actually accomplish next to nothing.

Related: How To Have A Balanced Lifestyle In A Crazy Busy World

Just because you’re ultra busy doesn’t make you more successful, happier, or a better achiever than someone who has learned to say ‘no.’

11. Look at what you’re missing out on.

‘Me’ time. Family dinners. Talking with your kids. Playing games with your family. At the end of your life, what are you going to regret the most? Not being president of every organization and club? Not spending more time at work? Or not really getting to know your kids, not really enjoying yourself and finding your inner peace?

The Takeaway

Here’s the bottom line: it’s okay to say no. It’s not only okay, it’s necessary if you want to achieve balance and inner peace. If you’ve never known how that feels, you may not have even considered saying no.

People will still like you. Your kids and/or spouse will thank you. In the end, saying no will keep you sane. And it will give you a sense of a life well-lived, not a life well-stressed.


carol morganCarol Morgan has a Ph.D. in communication and is a professor at Wright State University. She is also a motivational expert on the TV show ‘Living Dayton,’ the co-host of a popular radio show, video expert for eHow.com, frequent keynote speaker, and the author of several books.

Photo by anapalombo

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