Easy To Spell, Hard To Say

Apparently, it's also easy to sign once you've learned the manual alphabet. N-O. Two letters. If you attended public school during the 80s or 90s, you probably sat on the hard, cold floor of the multi-purpose room at least once a year and were taught to "Just Say No". Why then, all these years later, is it so hard to just say no?

Surely I'm not the only person who has a hard time saying the "n" word, though my kids don't seem to have a hard time saying it (or signing it). Sometimes, of course, no is an appropriate and necessary response. If it's a matter of safety, sanity, sensibility or more sugar, one must use the word "no".

When I was a naive and idealistic young mom, I purposely removed the word no from my vocabulary. I thought if my children weren't exposed to the word no, perhaps they wouldn't use the word so much. The last thing I wanted was my toddler screaming NO. So I went about finding other words and phrases that meant essentially the same thing as no. It resulted in a lot of superfluous words, and ultimately a waste of time. The word no crept into our vocabulary and is used when necessary.

The real challenge is saying no to a question, request, or invitation that you know will zap your spirit, waste your time, or put a burden on your family. Such as, "Are you interested in watching my baby full time?", or "Would you like to co-chair a committee?", or "Would you make a slipcover for my couch?" (Thank goodness my mother-in-law didn't say no to that last question because I love my slipcover). These are activities that would put me over the edge, and my family would bear the brunt of my fall.

Other times it's simple, less involved activities that you must turn down, such as going to a second party in one weekend or playing with a friend when down time is what your kids really need. And sometimes, it's saying no to yourself when you attempt one more project, squeeze one more activity into a busy day, or give up an addiction (it's been one week without coffee - yay!).

I have learned how to say no, but only after saying yes too many times. The next step is to say no without apology, guilt or fear of disappointing others. For now, I just take it one nay at a time.


  1. Oh, I have such a hard time with that one - not with saying no to my kids. I'm good at that. :)

    I have to work so hard at saying no when people ask me to do things. Especially if it's family. It's something I'm working on - at work and in our social life. I'm finally learning to not overschedule and to take time to just be and it has made a world of difference in my life.

  2. The book I just finished, breathe, by Keri Wyatt Kent was a lot about saying no and slowing down. Even if you don't apply the God aspect, it's still a great book.

    I think with maturity comes the ability to say no. I'm learning.

  3. My biggest complaint right now is telephone soliters asking for donations. It's almost nightly. I don't like the guilt and negative feeling when I have to literally hang up on them when I say no. They have no idea how much we give in other ways.
    True friends will always understand your need to say no at times though.

  4. Oh wow! Great post! I've been so busy lately and I have had conversations with myself where I practice saying no!! :)

  5. My problem is that I get sick of saying no, because I seem to say it SO MUCH! It's often my knee-jerk response. I wish that my children would hear "no" and not something that means, "keep asking - maybe I'll change my mind."

  6. I've been working on this as well and with the "no" season approaching, this was a good reminder. Thanks.

  7. I learned to say no this year...after one to many yes and realized I was more interested in my kids and being their mama then being nice.

    it's still hard though.


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