Permission To Say No

A couple of weeks ago, a close friend was telling me about an invitation she received to weekend away with her soon to be sister-in-law and her girlfriends. My friend was a bit frazzled. Between work and other obligations, she really didn’t have the time to go and was trying to figure out how to make it happen. So I asked her, “Why don’t you just tell her you can’t make it?” Her response, “But I told her I would. She’ll be upset. I don’t know what I would say.”

The more we talked about it, I realized that my friend accepted the invitation because she thought she should. Even though she knew the timing was bad and it was going to stress her out, she said yes. Why?

Because we are a culture of yes. We follow the crowd making decisions based on what we believe other people may think about us and not what’s actually in our own best interests. We have a problem saying no.  Look around, we say yes without ever really weighing the cost. Buy by continually giving in, we often find ourselves committing financially, physically and mentally to that which holds little or no value to us.  And it’s a fact that if you want a life with less stuff, less stress and more time, then you have to be able to say no. 

As for my friend…in the end, I was able to convince her that it was OK to tell the bride-to-be that she wouldn’t be able to make it after all. And you know what? There were no hurt feelings, there was no retaliation, and the world kept on spinning.  All she needed was for someone to give her permission to say no and the weight was lifted from her shoulders.