It’s O.K. to say N.O.

By: Desiree Sowards

Today consists of 24 hours, 1,440 minutes, and approximately 3 million things that beg for my attention, for my “yes.” I don’t know about you but I am a people pleaser to a fault. So if someone asks something of me, my impulsive answer is usually, “Of course!” A new opportunity is presented and it sounds so shiny and exciting and world-changing, so I emphatically say, “Sign me up!” This yes-man life can look successful to the world. “How DO they do it all?” says the jealous world. Well, here’s the secret. THEY DON’T. Not without a cost. I am learning that a person who says “yes” to everything will actually miss the very best “yes” they were created for. Instead of being fulfilled by these great and wonderful things, you feel emptied and underwhelmed by the growing pressure to do all things like a champ. Then it comes- burn-out. A spiritual, mental, physical bankruptcy from dipping into a well that is pretty darn dry. After a million yeses, I become no help to anyone. I begin to say “yes” out of guilt or just sheer habit, and let me tell you, my heart isn’t in it. And when my heart isn’t in it, I’m just a clanging cymbal. My sacrificial, yes-driven life is making noise, not music.


I want you to practice a new word with me. Are you ready? For some of us, it is very hard to pronounce. Here it comes...repeat after me…”NO.” This can come in many variations, “No, thank you.” “Not at this time.” No, but I appreciate the offer.” But the key word is the hardest: “N.O.” I am slowly learning that sometimes the most loving, valiant response is, “No. I would not be the right person for this job.” Ouch! I hate even writing it! But whatever attitude I bring to my “yes” is going to be multiplied once I get in there and begin the work. If I am feeling obligated to say yes, I will resent the calling halfway through. If I am hoping my “yes” will make others like me, I will wear myself thin trying to maintain their approval.