Recently, the topic of regrets came up.  Naturally, I started thinking about what my regrets were.  Can you guess what regret made it into my top five?  Saying yes when I wanted to say no.  I am a people pleaser.  It’s so much easier to say “yes” and put everyone else’s needs first. 

For me, it can be really hard to say “no”.  That’s probably true for most people.  Why is that?  I think the main reason is that we don’t want to let other people down.  We feel like by saying no we are rejecting the other person.  Or worse, the other person won’t like us because we said no. 

Here are five things that you can do to make saying no easier.

Change Your Mindset

To overcome our inability to say no, we first have to start by changing our mindset.  We need to create a mindset that will allow us to say no without feeling guilty or overthinking whether we should say no or yes.

Start by realizing that by saying no, you are freeing up time for something else.  We only have a certain amount of time in our day and it can quickly fill up with everything that we want to do, plus all the other demands on our time (cooking meals, taking care of young children, work, etc). 

Next, make self-care a priority.  Simple things, like getting enough sleep, exercising and eating healthy foods are essential.  When we take care of ourselves, we feel better and have more energy.  Which in turn, allows us to take care of everyone else.

Know Your Priorities

Ask yourself some questions.  What are my priorities in life?  Does this align with those priorities?  What matters most to you?  You know what is best for your life.  Stick to it, otherwise you may end up living a life someone else has created for you.

“It’s easy to say no when you know what your priorities are.  If it doesn’t align to your priorities, then say no.” – Sheri Riley

What is Your Gut Reaction?

Take time to figure out what you want by asking yourself these questions.  What does your first instinct response say?  Is it a “yes” or a “no”?  When thinking about the request/invite, is your body filled with excitement or dread?  If your gut reaction is telling you no, then go with it.

Practice Saying No

You can still be polite, friendly and respectful when you say no.  It also takes practice and discipline.  Start small if you need to, but start today.  Another way to get started is to memorize a simple “no” statement.  If you are having trouble deciding whether to say yes or no, a good phrase to use is, “Let me get back to you”.  Once you have decided you will say no, you can use the statement, “I’m sorry, but that’s not something I can take on now.”

You Can’t Please Everyone

It’s impossible to please everyone.  Remember at the beginning when I said we might fear we are letting people down by saying no.  But if we overstretch ourselves, if we are exhausted, if we are not living our own lives – then eventually we will let other people down.  It’ll start when we become grumpy because we are tired or we are forgetting what we said yes to because there is too much going on.  Remember, take care of yourself first, so that you have the capacity to take care of others.

Bottom line: It’s okay to say no. 

Until my next blog post, here’s wishing you lots of joy and happiness!
With love,


Hi! I'm Joanne. I’m a Canadian Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA, CMA). Money management is a life skill that I passionately believe all people need to learn. As an accountant, I love helping people understand numbers and money. At BuildingJoyAndHappiness, I share my tips to money management and make understanding finances simple.

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