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No – A to Z of Self Leadership

One very important aspect of self leadership is the ability to say ‘no’!

I used to suffer from the disease of people pleasing. And believe me, I paid too high a price for nothing! I tried too hard to make other people happy at the cost of my own happiness.

This is a great story about where people pleasing might lead to:

A married couple was returning from the funeral of Uncle George, who had lived with them for twenty years and had been such a nuisance that he almost succeeded in wrecking their marriage. “There is something I have to say to you, dear,” said the man. “If it hadn’t been for my love for you, I wouldn’t have put up with your Uncle George for a single day.” “My Uncle George!” she exclaimed in horror. “I thought he was your Uncle George!”
― Anthony de Mello, Taking Flight

We tolerate too many ‘Uncle Georges’ in our lives, thinking we are making other people happy. The reality is that later on these very same people might resent us for making them dependent on us.

My ability to say ‘no’ without guilt is still a work in progress. But I’m getting there. I’m learning to say ‘no’ to what my heart tells me not to do; to say ‘no’ when I’m doing something only out of a sense of obligation; to say ‘no’ when it means putting my legitimate needs before someone else’s. I’ve also learned that when I say ‘no’, I don’t owe the other person an explanation.

When you start truly valuing yourself, you learn not to feel guilty about saying ‘no’, because as author Duke Robinson says, “Saying yes when you need to say no causes burnout. You do yourself and the person making the request a disservice by saying yes all of the time.”

Sometimes “No” is the kindest word. ― Vironika Tugaleva

Action steps:

  • Pick one person who constantly makes demands on your time or resources.
  • Spend a few minutes analysing why you find it hard to say ‘no’ to this person. What will the consequences of your ‘no’ be?
  • Write a letter to this person (don’t send it to her) telling her why you no longer want to say ‘yes’ to her.
  • Practice a few sentences to say ‘no’ that don’t contain an explanation. For example, “I’m sorry, I can’t do this.”, “I’m sorry, I don’t have the time to ….” , the simple “No, thank you” and the most assertive of all, “No, I don’t want to…”

Learn to say ‘no’ to others and ‘yes’ to yourself!

saying no
[Tweet “Sometimes “No” is the kindest word.”]

Today I’m on ‘N’ of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge. My theme is the A to Z of Self Leadership. I’m also undertaking the NaBloPoMo for April – the theme is ‘grow’ and the Ultimate Blog Challenge


  1. […] than you • The life you are living on the outside doesn’t match who you are on the inside • You say yes when you mean no • You try to fix other people • You’ve forgotten to enjoy the […]

  2. […] sure you’re wondering about all the gaps in posts for the A to Z Challenge. I’ve been a little out of sorts for the last two weeks and haven’t been able to catch […]

  3. Stephen Tremp Stephen Tremp April 18, 2015

    This is the weekend before the last full week of A to Z. You’re amazing for staying with us this long. Thanks for your commitment. You’re almost there. This event only happens once a year, so get ready for the home stretch!

    Stephen Tremp
    A to Z Cohost
    P is for Paranormal Vs. Supernatural

  4. Parul Parul April 18, 2015

    Loved your post Corinne! That little story of Uncle George was funny and a great message.

    My post too for N for No 🙂 Check it out when you get time!
    Parul recently posted..P for PatriarchyMy Profile

  5. Vidya Subramanian Vidya Subramanian April 17, 2015

    I could very well relate to this. I was taught that saying “no” meant being rude and selfish. When I stared working I realized the importance of saying “no” because I did things I would never have otherwise done and ended up frustrated. Remembering your “Kindness” post…we have to be kind to ourselves too 🙂
    Vidya Subramanian recently posted..OutdatedMy Profile

  6. Lata Lata April 17, 2015

    I am one of those people who find it hard to say ‘no’:). Age is forcing me now because I don’t have the energy I once had. So, I am saying ‘no’ a lot more now.
    Lata recently posted..Our very own Desi Indiana Jones!My Profile

  7. Deboshree Deboshree April 17, 2015

    Very well said. “No” is sometimes imperative in our daily dealings. Makes life better for a lot of parties involved.
    Deboshree recently posted..A Midday SpellMy Profile

  8. Vinodini Iyer Vinodini Iyer April 17, 2015

    Yes indeed, sometimes no is the kindest word! There was a time I couldn’t bring myself to say no but now I weigh my pros and cons before saying yes and answer accordingly. Thanks for sharing these helpful tips.
    Vinodini Iyer recently posted..Pass offMy Profile

  9. Martha Orlando Martha Orlando April 17, 2015

    Yes, you strike that all too familiar chord here, Corinne, as I spent years and years trying to please others. It was the most freeing thing when I finally learned to say ‘no’ and meant it! Thanks for reminding us that ‘no’ is not at all a bad word. 🙂
    Martha Orlando recently posted..God Has Made It AllMy Profile

  10. Eli Eli April 17, 2015

    I learned this the hard way also – so used to be a people -pleaser, almost destroyed me… – so can completely relate to your post – very encouraging and empowering to me. And my N is also N for NO today:-)
    Eli recently posted..N for NoMy Profile

  11. Tawnya Tawnya April 16, 2015

    Loved this post! You are right….saying “no” is sometimes the kindest thing we can do. It is not a natural word though. I feel like as a kid I was taught to always say yes. That it wasn’t nice to say no and not do things that people asked of me. As an adult though I still feel guilty when I say no or don’t go to something. I feel like I have to have a reason, but I don’t. Just recently I have started saying no, and it feels so good. The guilt is becoming less and less. I know myself more now then ever before, and I know when I just need time to be….that means saying no. Thanks for this post!
    Tawnya recently posted..Absolutely Authentic from A to Z! NotoriousMy Profile

  12. Nancy Nancy April 16, 2015

    I learned to say, “No.” It was even more important to learn to say it without explanation. I am so glad you mentioned this latter aspect. There are very few people to whom we owe explanation.
    Nancy recently posted..Names and NamingMy Profile

  13. G Angela G Angela April 16, 2015

    Very true corinne, I learnt it the hard way; sometimes its very difficult to deal with people who are part of family, and toxic… we can throw them out, as they are related to one or the other person… I think we must Be aware and learn to set some boundary for these kind, otherwise they will start ruling our lives…. and may even break the family. Thanks for sharing..

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