When it’s time to say No

We live in a world that places value on Yes. Yes to staying late at work, Yes to the third girls night out in a month, Yes to that upsize.

Yes means that you’re a team player, a go-getter, someone who’s seizing every opportunity that life throws your way. But do you also sometimes feel trapped by the big Y-E-S?

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(Gratuitous Hiddles GIF because we’re getting deep)

As I’ve detailed before, when I’m not able to make ends meet with acting gigs, I cover my bills with a variety of casual jobs. These all dove-tail nicely and usually mean that I’m able to earn more than I need to to keep afloat. And I mean way more. It’s completely normal to get a ‘By the way, are you free on…’ every time I’m in an office. My knee-jerk reaction is always to say yes, because who’s going to turn down extra money? If I don’t practice my No muscle, there are times when I can look at my diary and realise that I’ve worked 50-60 hours in a week. My workplaces are probably grateful to have an extra set of hands available and I know that my bank account always sure appreciates the extra boost, but how is any of that helping me move towards what I actually want in life? Looked at objectively, my Yes is serving everyone but me.


The self-sacrificing Yes can disguise itself in a number of ways.

Online sales are my weaknesssss- I’m the person that will open a dozen tabs and add hundreds of dollars of items to my cart before coming to my senses and leaving everything behind. So where has my Yes to their emailed invitation gotten me? I’ve probably wasted a few hours of work time and decided that I need to completely overhaul my wardrobe, browsing the sale was really only the good little capitalist in me trying to burn my hard earned money on some low-cost, sweatshop clothing. Is that really what I’m working for?

The real irony is, the more I’ve been working in a day-job, the harder it is for me to resist the chance to throw my money away. I’ll find myself engaging in hard-core research for products I don’t even need, because deep down I’m trying to justify the overwork. I’m working so hard so I deserve to spend money on the things I want – or the things they tell me I want. And then what do I have to do to replace the money I spent?

Bingo. I say yes to overtime again.

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Sometimes not using your Yes won’t make sense to the rest of the world.

This whole blog post started in my head last night when I went to grab a burger on the run for dinner. At the end of my order, I was offered sauce for an extra 50c and obviously said yes because aoli is life.

And then I got ‘and what drink would you like?’

The options on offer were canned soft drink (which I’m avoiding because I’m trying to deny that it’s time for a visit to the dentist) or bottled water (see here and here for the back story on that one).

‘None, thank you’.


‘No thanks’

‘Are you sure? It’s free with the sauce.’

‘I’m good, but thanks’

‘Not even a water?’

‘No thank you.’

I had to turn down a free drink four times before she would accept my answer.

Because who doesn’t say yes to free? Crazy people, that’s who!

Saying Yes would sure have ended the conversation sooner. But then where would I have been? Technically I would have been up the cost of a water, but why do I need it? I had a bottle in my bag, and if I had taken the plastic bottle it would have lurked on my conscience all night.

No matter how badly the lovely woman wanted me to follow the purchase path (probably making her till order easier) and take the ferdydurking free water, withholding my Yes was what was better for me. (Okay, technically it was more of a series of very polite No’s, but you get the point. I’ll write on the power of a good No another day.)

Treasure your Yes-es as if you had a finite amount to give- because you do! How many times can you say Yes to everyone before you suffer a complete breakdown?

Save them for the things that will bring you joy. Say Yes to that movie with friends, that extra-nice bottle of wine, or that short film that you really don’t have time to do but the script is just so.damned.good (guilty). Save your Yes-es for the things that will feed your soul, because at the end of the day, you’re the only one who has to live in the life you’re creating.

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PSA: This post is written from the perspective of a compulsive Yes-er. If you think that mayyybe you’re a compulsive No-er, you go and sprinkle those Yes-es like stardust, you beautiful little nay-sayer!

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When it’s time to say No

8 thoughts on “When it’s time to say No

    1. I think it definitely comes from a people-pleasing perspective! When I say No, I’m always aware that doing what’s best for me could be inconveniencing or offending the person I’m turning down, and that takes a bit of getting used to! I’m glad this post struck a chord with you, as I was writing I was aware that it could come across as pretty negative, but I think for people like us, being aware of how often we say Yes can be such a boon for our mental health! I know that taking stock of my life certainly helps keep my head in shape

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I’m pretty good about guarding the “yes” that saps my somewhat-below-average physical energy. I’ve never been a high energy person, but now I have an autoimmune condition, too, so I have learned to protect that really obviously finite pool.

    It helps me (as a woman, trained up to be giving) that I can blame my children. “I’m a full-time mom. They NEED me. I must say no to you instead.” 🙂

    Those, “here, take this unwanted thing” situations in stores are tougher! I carry around a cardboard cup sleeve to re-use, because why throw them out? They don’t even get dirty. But it can be H-A-R-D to get a barista to understand why I’m trying to stop her from putting one on my go cup. Or an unwanted shopping bag as I’m unfolding my cloth one. They’ve already bagged it. Why am I arguing? Am I afraid of plastic bags? (Yeah, kind of! Ha ha.)

    For coffee, my choice#1 is to sit down and drink my espresso in a ceramic cup because it tastes better and wastes less and only takes a one ounce minute; choice#2 is remembering the reusable lidded cup I keep with me in the car. Sometimes I do fail at both #1 and #2 and take a paper cup, though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s so funny that you say that, growing up my mum always gave us permission to use her as our No. She didn’t care if she came off as a horrible dragon lady, as long as her kids weren’t going along with something they didn’t feel comfortable with. Perhaps that’s why I’ve had to reclaim my No now I’m all grown up!

      When I moved to a reduced-waste lifestyle, I had to get used to a lot of those confused conversations- the most ridiculous one I can recall is ordering a coffee in my keepcup, only to see the barista grab a takeaway cup to write my order on and put it in my reusable cup!! I mean, honestly. Sometime’s you have to wonder!


  2. I used to be like you…then I realized that me liking me was more important than having others like me. That’s what got me to stop saying ‘yes’ so often. We each just need to find our own path to balance.


    1. That’s so true! I think my Yes normally comes from a place of not wanting to put people in a difficult place more than aiming to be liked, but there definitely comes a time when self-care is the most important thing of all!


  3. Creative Mind says:

    Reblogged this on Travels of the Creative Mind and commented:
    Now that I’m in university I have a hard time with saying No. As soon as I see or hear the word “free” it’s like: I’ll totally do it. Do I need it? No or maybe. This ranges from free (sometimes interesting) seminars that I don’t always have time for (but I’m already paying for tuition, take it!) to free food that randomly appears once in a while in the dorm kitchens to free clothes/items in the dorm areas. And then there’s people asking for help. I cannot just say no. No matter how many deadlines I have and how little sleep I’ve gotten so far. And social events? Argh! Do I always want to go? No. Only sometimes. Do I feel guilty not going? Yes. Therefore…I must go. The only thing that will stop me from going is the excuse of “too many papers to write”…I need to learn the word “No”.


    1. I’m so glad you found this useful! I completely agree, I think my problem with No stems back to studying- I still find it hard to turn down free stuff! It’s a long path to being ok with taking care of yourself first.

      Liked by 1 person

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