The Real Reason You Can’t Say No

The Real Reason You Can’t Say No

Everybody talks about how hard it is to say no, especially as women and mothers. There are so many demands, so many needs, so many requests, and so many kids’ birthday parties. I imagine as mothers we’re probably pressed at least 45 different times each and every day to give a yes or no answer to something that’s asked of us. And sadly, I’d venture to say that 95% of the time, we say yes. 

We always say yes. 

Yes, I’ll do your laundry. Yes, I’ll take on that extra project. Yes, I’ll make that special meal tonight, and yes, of course, I’ll log in to Sign Up Genius and volunteer to bring cupcakes to school for the teacher’s birthday. Oh, the birthdays. 

I think we say yes too often. I don’t think we often even fully digest the request, to be honest. Does this sound familiar? Your sister-in-law comes at you with, “I was wondering if you would be able to…” And before she can even finish her sentence, you’re completing it for her with a resounding, “Of course”! 

It’s time to get a grip. 

Now I can teach you an incredibly easy and effective way to say no on a regular basis. I’ve written about it several times, and it has to do with making out with teenage boys. It works like a charm every single time. You can read about it here. However, I believe that learning to say no is a far deeper challenge than learning how to state the words with confidence. The issue of saying no is very black and white. The only problem is that we only ever look at one side of the story—the “saying no” side. 

If you have a hard time saying no to others, here’s the whole truth behind why: It’s not that you’re incapable of saying no to others….you’re incapable of saying yes to yourself. You don’t feel worthy of protecting your free time. If you did, you would have more of it.

People defend what they love. If you do not love yourself the way you should, you will never learn how to protect and defend any sense of sanity and self-preservation.

Consider this: Saying yes to baking cupcakes for the 15th third-grade class party means saying no to one hour of free time to do whatever the hell you want. Saying yes to working on a client project over the weekend means saying no to staying in bed and reading your new self-help book. Here are two recent examples of when I said no to other people and yes to myself.

  • No, I’m not going to make your breakfast. I recently declared that I’m no longer making breakfast for them. They’re capable of doing it themselves. For the first week they whined and complained, but now they’re on autopilot. Saying no to making their breakfast means I’m saying yes to me sitting in the other room, sipping tea and staring out the window.
  • No, I’m not going to take on a project that requires me to work over the weekend. This happened last week. A prospective client called to ask if The Mom Complex could participate in a quick turn consulting project for a big national brand. It was a high-profile opportunity for us, but it would have required me to be in New York City over the weekend and during my daughter’s birthday on Sunday. I said no to the project and yes to being present and having fun at the party.

So, the next time you’re put on the spot to make a yes or no decision, think of yourself for once. You’ll be better for it. I promise.

Katherine Wintsch