How to Start Saying No: And Stop Overcommitting

Oct 3, 2018Mental Health, Self Care

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NO! Yes, that one word that many of us have a hard time at expressing.

It feels so harsh to us sometimes and we say yes many times when our gut is telling us to that we really don’t want to do XYZ.

Sounds so easy in retrospect but for many of us, easier said than done.

We don’t want to hurt the other person’s feelings or let people down, I get it.

I’ve been told by others that I have people-pleasing tendencies and its just because I hate to feel like I’m disappointing someone or that I’m not there for them.

However, we need to realize that those who truly love us will understand and we need to give them an opportunity to be understanding.


Yes, I put that in caps and bolded it because I want you to remember that your needs are important and that each no you give is a yes to yourself, your happiness, your peace of mind.


So let’s get in the habit of saying no to things, well, that we really want to say no to.


Decide What you Want to Do

A quick exercise that I use for deciding whether I will commit to something is asking myself these two questions.

“ Is this in alignment with my goals or the other persons?”

For example, my goals could be to be a better friend or to take more time for myself.

Then I ask myself hypothetically will going to this event help me reach those goals? If no, then that’s my answer.

“How will this help me advance or what will I learn from this?”

If it’s not helping me grow and is in no way a learning opportunity and is not in alignment with what I want to accomplish for myself then the answer is no yet again. 


More questions to ask yourself.

“ Am I doing this for me or for them?”

“ How is this adding value to my life?”

“Does this make me excited?”

As they say, if it’s not a hell yes! , then it’s a no.

You don’t have to decide now,  you can let them know you will think about it and get back to them.


Some “No” Scripts


One thing with scripts, the least amount of words the better.

Here are a couple of scripts that I have found helpful because a flat out no just doesn’t sit well with me.

Let me check my schedule and get back to you.

Thank you for thinking about me but I’m going to have to pass.

Sorry, I’m unavailable.

I would really love to do x,y z, however, I have other commitments.

Thanks for the invite, however, I won’t be able to make it.

Or anything that fits your personality and/or the situation.




Sometimes we don’t want to say no because we don’t want to let the other person down or don’t want them to be upset with us.

But realize that you are not mean or a bad person because you either are unable to do something someone wants you to do or simply because you want to work on things that are important to you including your self-care.

That being said… did you have plans to stay at home and lounge around watching movies because it has been a long week and you really need some time to decompress?

Heck, do it!

And don’t feel guilty if one of your friends invites you to something and you think to yourself that you really are free.

Nope!, your time you scheduled to yourself is just as important as anything else.

So relax, watch romantic movies guilt-free, knowing that you made a choice to do something for your self and made yourself a priority.


People Pleasing


Oooo the age old people pleasing.

We’ve all done this at least once in our life and for some of us, it is a bad habit we seem to not be able to kick.

You know what it is, doing something you deep deep deep down know you REALLY don’t want to do but do just because you want to make the other person happy or avoids confrontation.

And what ends up happening is you end up resenting every moment of it and wishing it was over.

Yeah its easy to say don’t do this but if you’ve made this a habit in your relationships it can be a hard one to break.

So. I ask you when evaluating the request I say visit this question, “ Am I doing it for them or for me”.

Do you get excited about the request or see it as another chore to add to your already long list of things to do?

Be honest with yourself, the first answer that comes to mind is usually the truth.

Don’t try to bargain with yourself and justify why you should do it. “ Well but they did something for me and now I owe them” or “ I will seem like I don’t care if I don’t do it”.


Just explain to the person that you can’t do whatever, aren’t free, or maybe you’re not the right person for the project and you can refer them to someone else and let it go there.

Don’t think about what they might be thinking, or that they will banish you as a friend forever.

Our minds tend to make a bigger deal out of things and we think of the worse case scenario.

This is always a losing game and you will only drive yourself crazy thinking of the what ifs.


Stay Strong


If you’re used to complying with requests of others they may feel that with a little pressure you’ll give in.

If you want this habit to stick, for goodness sake please don’t give in.

Stay strong!

Don’t get pressured into complying.

This will just lead to even more resentment, of the task and eventually the person.

If you give in this is letting the other party know that with pressure and persistence you will give up and comply with what they want.

Prepare yourself prior, knowing that people may be being disappointed but

Also, prepare yourself for the guilt inside of you that just wants to agree.

The feeling that you must explain yourself or give an excuse, you don’t.

Make a plan beforehand of how you want to respond in these situations.

Which could be “ I see this is important to you but as I’ve said I’m unfortunately unavailable” or “Sorry I can’t”. Or simply don’t respond.

I’ve found that sometimes people will say something just to get a response out of me. Sometimes not engaging is necessary.



Remember that there is power in saying no. It feels so liberating to start saying no to things that you don’t want to do but would normally say yes to.

Every no gives you more time to commit to the projects, people, goals and experiences that are align with who you are and how you want to spend your time. I said it before and I’m gonna say it again, every time you say no to someone you are saying yes to yourself and your goals.


That’s why I want to encourage you to say no at least one time this week when yes is at the tip of your tongue. Let me know how it goes. Just one no when you are on the verge of a regretful yes this week. You can do it, now go out into the world using no as your new weapon!