The Power of Saying “No”

I am an extrovert.  I love people and I love happy environments.  In fact, I would say I’m an addict.  Yes, I am addicted to the fun-loving, carefree moments that I find when I am making other people happy.  So much so that it’s dangerous.

You may be wondering how making other people happy is a bad thing.  Well, let me tell you.

I first realized I had a problem when I found myself sitting in a coffee shop at 1:30 am next to a boy I was in love with helping him with his homework.  In my mind I was just helping him and later on he would repay the favor by taking me out to eat or somewhere to have fun.  It was totally justified that as long as I was helping him with school he would be there to help me have fun. But I was being robbed.

If I had been smarter or had a third party perspective I would have seen that I was blinded by my love for him and my desire to make him happy.  He didn’t love me back, I was basically a tutor that he paid in nights out.  If anything he thought of me as a friend while I thought of him as the sun.  I said “yes” everytime he needed something.  I jumped out of bed at weird hours of the night to see him.  I met him on his watch and by his request all to make him feel good about himself but all it did was wear me down.

Sitting in this coffee shop at nearly 2 a.m. I knew that waking up for work 5 hours later would be painful and that I wasn’t benefiting from this study session and that if I had said “no” to this boy when I knew I should be in bed, that he might find a reason to be unhappy with me and not want to keep me around.  These were unhealthy feelings.

“No” holds an incredible amount of power in two letters. They demand respect.  They tell others “No, you can’t walk all over me” and “No, I don’t want to follow your every move”.  However, I spent a lot of my days feeling more like I was saying “No, I don’t want to make you happy.”  But that wasn’t true.

When we say “yes” to everyone we don’t have time for ourselves.  Many people have shared the sentiment that you can’t love someone until you love yourself first and in many cases that means putting yourself first.  Don’t let people take advantage of your kindness.  If you don’t have time, let them know.  If you don’t want to do a particular activity, suggest something else or go do what you want to on your own.  Life’s too short to be living by someone else’s schedule.

“No” doesn’t have to be harsh or hurtful.  Instead think of it as empowering to your self-worth. “No, I don’t depend on another’s happiness to make me happy.”

“No, I’m not going to spend time on someone who can’t make time for me.”

“No, I won’t jump off of a cliff for your entertainment.”

The beauty that comes from saying “no” is that people will know your boundaries.  They will know that you have the power to stand up for yourself and that you know your worth and you respect yourself enough to do what is best for you.  Remember you are powerful.  You just need the courage to say it.


Sarah is the content manager for  She is a young writer with a love of people and self-motivation.  She believes that life is a lesson learned and there’s no room for regrets.


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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