Posted by: VoiceinRecovery | June 16, 2010

Just Say NO

It is OK and necessary to say NO.

I remember as a kid there was DARE – a just say no program to drugs. I remember sitting in an assembly vividly in elementary school. I didn’t particularly relate to the message then, and never struggled with drugs per se. While I may not have related, I did REMEMBER the message, its goals, and remember where I was, what people were wearing, etc. This is a pretty powerful observation to me because I am struggling today not with saying no to drugs, but with saying no in general to requests people ask of me. I hear this is a common theme for many people, we WANT to do it all, we WANT to help people, we WANT to do more than we actually can do.

I wonder how a message of “just say no” or “learn to say no” given when we are young with regards to balancing life, and desires, wants, with needs, and self care would impact our lives. I think the messages we teach children are powerful, because we carry messages with us for life often. We are often taught when young not to do this, not to do that, but we aren’t often taught the skills of how to balance wants, needs, and self care. We learn what is bad and good, but aren’t given tools on how to balance how to live and face situations to better our lives.

It is OK and necessary to say NO. Repeat to self. Over and over.

I need to learn to say No. I want to help people, and be able to do everything people ask of me. I am not just a people pleaser, I honestly want to do everything. I want to do guest posts, I want to be on call and respond to texts asking for support. I want to do more than is possible with the time I have. I like to bite off more than I can chew. I then am faced with the inability to do something and am stuck apologizing and not meeting the things I have said yes to. I am not a slacker, and do many things with the time I have. My should monster likes to tell me “you should be able to do everything”, “you should have managed your time better”, “you should have been doing this instead of watching hulu.” I know we all have this SHOULD monster telling us how we are inadequate. I often tell people to stop listening to the should monster, to fight its words with reality and kindness. Yet another lesson I need to take from my own advice.

It is OK and necessary to say NO. Repeat to self. Over and over.

I know with work, if I take on too much, the quality of work goes down, because I can’t do everything up to the par of excellence I would normally like to do. I have managed to work no into my work environment, but have yet to be able to pass this into my personal and advocacy world. I believe because I am extremely passionate about advocacy, and the work I do, it is harder to say no. I honestly wish I could do everything, but I can’t. I have to get out of my thinking that people will think less of me if I say no. I have to start making self care an absolute NEED and PRIORITY. I have to learn and integrate the NO word into my advocacy.

It is OK and necessary to say NO. Repeat to self. Over and over.

I am sure this will be a lesson I have to be vigilant and mindful of throughout my life. I need to quiet the should monster and listen to my needs. No is a NEED not a want. I will learn to be OK with saying no because my health is important to me. I need to worry less about being “thought” of by others as a slacker, because that is not based on reality. Saying no is about learning our boundaries, understanding them, and learning to respect them. It is also about personal empowerment, being able to empower yourself in knowing its OK to say no. It is also a self esteem boost to stop listening to the should monster and learning to make yourself a priority. Who knew a simple word, usually used in punishment, could have so many lessons within it!

I keep wondering if I was taught as a child to learn to make myself a priority and learn to say no then, if that message would have carried on through my life. I think we need to empower our children and give them tools on how not only NOT to do bad things, but also on how to live a healthy, balanced, and wonderfully rich and rewarding life!

How about you? Do you struggle with saying no? How do you learn how to say no and integrate it into a balanced and healthy life? Do you think this is something we should teach children?


  1. My former self used to have a hard time saying no. Now I don’t anymore. It takes a lot of balls sometimes to say no to people, but I cannot balance my life without it.

    • I have started to say no and I feel really empowered when I do. I thought I would have more guilt – but I dont. I feel proud of myself for keeping my boundaries 🙂

  2. This is just what I needed to read today. And every day, apparently. Thanks.

    • You are very welcome!

  3. Such an important thing to do. I so relate to your wishing you could do more. Always a people pleaser in my younger years with a very strong desire to help and a fear of disappointing, finding the courage to say no was one of the hardest things I had to learn to do. Taking care of yourself involves knowing when to say no. Overextending ourselves is no help to anyone.
    I’m raising a family and have daily obligations so I do what I can and have to give myself permission to not feel badly that I can’t do it all.

  4. The words “stop me before I volunteer again” are posted on the door of my bedroom. Needless to say, I relate to everything you’ve written here…particularly the part about it being harder when you’re passionate. I think it’s most difficult to say no when you have strong beliefs and know that you’re capable of doing great things. I’ve burned myself out more than a few times because I’ve run across too many fantastic opportunitites at once and not WANTED to say no, even if I was feeling able to… I think that — just as there’s power in setting your own boundaries about when enough is enough, and taking time to watch Hulu (or otherwise defrag)… there’s also power in networking and empowering those people who are also passionate but perhaps haven’t stepped up to the plate. When the problem is not your inability to say no, but — or additionally — the fact that you have so much you want to do, I think it’s good to keep in mind how many great people are out there to help you do it. And to remember that it’s ok to use them.

    That said, I’m off to defrag awhile, imagining a world where we were taught not just to say no to drugs, but to say no in general. (Love that idea…) Great post!

    • So true! Loved everything you wrote!!! Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts!

  5. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Michelle Stevens, Lola Snow. Lola Snow said: Reading: "Just Say NO « Voice in Recovery" ( ) […]

  6. I have something for you here

    • Thank you!!!

  7. I also used to have a tough time saying no. I learned the hard way though and got steamrolled… big time. Now, I pause, decide whether I’m willing and/or able, and decide to do something or not to do something after considering it. I often say no. Sometimes I say yes, but I often say no.

    • It is hard! I said no the other day and I actually felt wonderful! I think what you say is important. Taking a moment to REALLY think about it before you say yes. I often feel I have to give an answer right now, when in reality a moment of thought would save a lot of hardship 🙂

  8. […] from a type of eating disorder or unhealthy relationship with food. Recommended posts: "Just Say NO" and "Food […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: