Learning to Say “No” to Others


Do you ever feel like you are drowning? Like a “if I don’t do everything everyone expects me to I am six feet under” kind of drowning?

It took me 3 years to fully learn this lesson. By the time I first realized I was feeling like my life ran me instead of the other way around, it was too late. It took me the next three years to slowly watch my life unravel (and subsequently my nerves) before I swallowed my pride and asked for help. Okay, I didn’t ask for help. I was too prideful, but quickly I realized I needed someone to intervene. With the help of family and friends, my overwhelmed and frazzled life that was falling apart due to high levels of self-induced stress, became more manageable.

How? My family told me “Sarah, if you stop doing some of these things, and reduce your workload, the world won’t end tomorrow”.  What? You’ve got to be kidding. Is it really that easy? I simply say no to people if I truly don;t have the time or resources, and they won’t hate me? This was a revelation to me. But sure enough, I hesitantly started telling people no when I was truly overwhelmed. Starting then, it was like a weight was gradually lifting. I felt free- from myself, from obligations, from others.

It is important to note that learning to say no to others when your plate is already full or if your personal emotional/spiritual life needs rest is not saying no to them or their relationship. It is learning to have a healthy balance in which you allow yourself to give your 100% to a few things, so that next time you can give your 100% to other things. Stretching yourself thin does nothing for you or the other person. In fact it increases the risk of you hurting yourself or your reputation with others if you cannot follow through on a task due to overload. Lysa TerKeurst has a book about this topic called “The Best Yes”. I HIGHLY recommend it. Lysa has been a great encouragement to me (though she doesn’t know it) through her books and blog posts. She too has been there and can lend godly wisdom on how to save your best “yes” for opportunities to serve God and help others, in a healthy way. Remember, ultimately we do everything to bring honor to God, not ourselves. So the next time you feel overwhelmed and need to give something up, ask yourself “am I doing this for God’s glory or for mine?”. You may be surprised by your answer.

Click here to download a free printable on how to effectively say “no” to other when you’re overwhelmed. Courtesy Lysa TerKeurst’s blog.

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