Learning to Say No

It’s been exactly a month since I had that… breakdown. As with every time you hit rock bottom, the only way to go is up. At the time, obviously, it was horrible. But in retrospect it was just what I needed to happen. A great wakeup call if you will.
I made a bunch of new changes as a result of everything that happened. I feel great. Honestly. I took a legitimate vacation. I make a commitment, and stick to it, for when I’m going to leave the office at night. I read every single morning and every night, no matter what. I’ve been drinking more water and eating healthier. I’ve even made plans with my friends at work to do SoulCycle together a few times a week. There are nights I dedicate to hanging out with friends, there are nights I dedicated to catching up on some work and meeting people, but there are also nights I dedicate to just doing nothing.
But the biggest decision I’ve made? Well, it’s not so much a decision as it was a realization. I had been putting so many things ahead of myself and my health. Partly because I naturally want to please everyone (#guilty) and partly because I don’t like to think of myself as having limitations.
Pleasing everyone is impossible. (You really can’t be everything for everyone…) And thinking that I’m limitless is helpful at times, but it can seriously backfire if I end up driving myself into the ground!
I recently took the StrengthsFinder test (you know how much I love these tests!). One of the things that comes up is that I don’t like letting people down. When I say that I’m going to do something, I have to do it by the time I said it would be done… because the guilt is just horrible if I don’t. So this feeling had been driving me to accomplishing absolutely everything, even at the price of myself.
But the real problem was that I was saying YES to too much! I was taking on additional projects and picking up some leftover pieces from other people… and literally driving myself insane in the process.
I’ve been so much better about saying NO.
Now, I do get a twinge of guilt when I have to say no… but I know that I’m taking care of myself.
The best strategy that I’ve been implementing is to frame the no in a different way. Instead of saying no flat-out, I explain that I can do that, if I don’t do X, Y, or Z. Most of the time, the person will acknowledge that the new task doesn’t take precedence. But other times, I re-prioritize and reallocate my tasks to make room.
It helps.
A lot.
Do you struggle with saying “No”?

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H. Thiers

That's so great that you have been able to accomplish that! I had issues with saying no to people for years and when I reached a certain age my mom said I had to face the reality that I couldn't please everyone, so I stopped saying yes all the time.



SO glad to hear that! I would say I've been reading your blog for 3 years now and it always seemed to me like you managed to do it all, but were also spread a bit too thin.

I definitely want to take the Strength Test too!! I love things like that and the MBTI 🙂

I am certainly a people pleaser (I hate to not be there for someone or to disappoint them or hurt their feelings) but I feel like I learned sometime around 17 to say no for my sanity.

I'm honestly not sure where it comes from…I think maybe my mom. When my brother and I were in elementary school, she worked, commuted 2 hours each way to get her masters, was a mom and a wife. And still managed to host holidays! I think seeing her prioritize and making sure she said no as necessary so that she had the energy for what was important.

Kate Mitchell

I'm so glad to hear that you're doing better! You probably don't remember, but back when you had that breakdown I commented that I had one of my own around that similar time. And, like you, I found that the best thing for my health and sanity was to start saying "no" more. It's definitely helping me, so I hope that it's helping you, too!


Brigid Smith

I can't even believe how much I can relate to this. I haven't read the blog in a while, because I was in a similar situation. Just too much of everything (work & play) and I think I've just been hoping that things will slow down on their own…probably not the case.

I'm happy to hear that you're feeling much better–but I'm even happier to know that I'm not the only one. Thank you for sharing your life experiences–you make me feel a bit more sane! 🙂

suburban prep

Oh so me.
I have to learn to tend to myself too. I tend to others and want them to be ok before myself.
I do hope that you are doing well.


Hi Carly, glad you've been doing a lot better. I'd love to know how you go about making and implementing changes in your life nd how you've learnt to deal with the obstacles inherent in changing your different habits – ie eating healthier vs exercising vs reading etc.


Laura Trevey

Learning how to say NO doesn't come naturally to me, but I am becoming pretty darn good at it. Love your honesty in this post!



I've never had a problem with saying no. My favorite quote of all time is from Karen Walker on Will and Grace "Oh Honey, I'd love to, but I don't wanna"
It's perfect, it's a bit rude, but normally it gets a laugh out of the person rather than them being offended because it catches them off guard.

Fashion and Happy Things

Johana Herrera

This was something I really needed to read. I also have an issue about pleasing everyone that I am putting a strain on myself. I do not like being rude because I hate hurting people's feelings, but a lot of times people are just not considerate of you and YOUR priorities or how you feel. As of today, I will JUST SAY NO!

Megan @ From Megan, With Love

My biggest thing is not being able to say no to people. My dad always reminds me of this quote: "You can please all of the people some of the time, some of the people all of the time, but you can't please all of the people all of the time." Sometimes it's so hard to remind ourselves of this! Glad you are getting some rest and recuperation, girl. You deserve it!

Julia D.

I like your strategy a lot because I have the same problem. With your way, you help them understand how busy you are and aren't really letting them down so much as allowing for reflection on both your part's of the task's importance.