How To Be Okay With Saying NO


Sherley is a Haitian-American flight attendant who served eight years in the US Army Reserve. Her journey with Femme Naturelle began in 2012 as a way to build a safe space, a community to uplift and empower women in relationships transitioning out of crisis. She resides in New Jersey with her husband and two children.

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How To Be Okay With Saying NO

This article was written by Lynn Joseph on behalf of Sherley Altidor

Saying no is okay. Saying no is a part of life. If it’s not already a significant part of your life, it definitely should be.

A lot of times in society, “No” has a negative connotation. If you say “No,” you’re not being kind or thoughtful. The thing is, being able to analyze what is being asked of you and knowing your limits is a huge part of mature decision making. It is so important to be okay growing into understanding once’s limitations and not over-promising. Saying “Yes” to everything is actually very unhealthy. A person can run themselves into the ground with their commitments to “Yes.” This is why it is vital that we each learn what we can say yes to and what we can say no to.

This is why we must stop feeling bad about saying no.The key to being okay with saying “No” is knowing your value in not just “Yes” but “No” as well.
In more cases than we think, it’s not wrong to say no. For instance, not having the funds to help out a loved one who needs to borrow money when you yourself do not have enough funds to get by is unfortunate but not wrong. We all depend on each other and make sacrifices but sometimes the sacrifice is too great and the only person who can pull back on that is you. Don’t stress yourself over someone else’s predicament. In the first world, most of us are just getting by. There will be moments when we’ll be able to help each other but there will be moments when we will be unable to. Surrendering to this fact takes a load of stress off, as it should because we cannot carry it all and should not have to.

Paraphrasing Financial Advisor, Suze Orman, she once said that if you can’t write the funds off as a loss, then you cannot let that person borrow the money. This advice can be taken to a grander scale as well. It doesn’t matter who is asking for your help, whether it be financially, taking up your precious time and energy, etc… If you do not have what is needed for the other person and cannot look at it as a complete selfless act– looking for nothing in return– even if something is promised by the other party, it might be best to bow out of the situation. At that point, it may not be about what you want to do but being confident in the hard facts that being in the negative will not work out for you. It is okay to say, “No.”

We all have important obligations that we must meet in life and those priorities vary by the person. There is so much that factors into how we prioritize our days, both short term and long term. The fact is, if you hold onto the rope long enough, it will burn you and break. So it’s important to take breaks on the big yeses and even the little yeses. Practice self care so that you are ready financially, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually for the yes and for the no. No is in fact the route you may have to take in order to make the time for that self care. Trust your body, your mind, your No. We’ve all heard the saying before that you can’t truly help another person until you’ve helped yourself. So don’t forget about yourself in the equation of help because it may not always be a zero sum game and you may not always be able to take that game on.

We are our best advocates. We must protect our finances, our bodies, our minds, our hearts. We should not always throw ourselves under the nus to say “Yes” lest we have nothing left to give. We have so much to give if we pace ourselves. Love is unconditional. The thing to remember is that there is plenty to go around and generally speaking, you are not the only person in another person’s life who can say “Yes.” Saying “No” in itself is a declaration that you know things will be okay even without you.

“No” is a word that I don’t feel bad about using anymore. In my 20’s, I felt bad but in my thirties and soon to be forties, I have no problem saying “No.” Sometimes we forget that “Yes” is a big ask. If it’s not feasible to fulfill the “Yes” at that moment in life, know that at the end of the day, the bigger picture of what is being asked of you will be filled by another person. The world goes round. It will be okay.

What have you said “No” to recently?

Are you comfortable saying no?

Articles you may enjoy on strong women:

Why Are Women Labeled Strong

Why Self-Preservation is Important

Why Self-Care is Vital / A How to Starter Guide to Self-Care

How To Be Okay With Saying NO

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Femme Parler, which in french means, “woman talk,” is a podcast speaking to women about regaining our power after a crisis in a relationship. 


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