How to Survive Christmas with your Sanity Intact! – Part 3

‘Tis the season of Ho Ho Ho!

And maybe you’re more than ready to holler a weary: “No! No! No!”

A very wise mentor once told me: “What you say No to defines who you are.”


But what does it actually mean and how does it work in reality?

After all, we women are extremely good at saying Yes! Yes! Yes! to everything.

Even when it leaves us feeling drained, worn out and resentful.

Especially at this time of year when the demands on our time and energy are off the hook!

How can we say No in a graceful and elegant way?

And without the dreaded feelings of guilt that often accompany the ‘N’ word!?

Why we say Yes when we mean NO

We may think saying Yes when we really want to say NO means we’re being selfless and giving.

In reality saying Yes in these instances is an act of selfishness! Say what?!

The reason we say Yes instead of NO is because we want to positively influence what the other person thinks of us.

We want them to think we are kind, willing, helpful, and lots of other lovely, positive adjectives.

We want them to feel all warm and fuzzy about us.

But the truth is, we can’t control what other people think about us. We don’t have that kind of power!

Another reason we say Yes instead of No is because we want to take care of the other person’s feelings.

We don’t want them to feel disappointed or upset or offended. So we say Yes.

We want the other person to feel good.

But the feeling we end up creating for ourselves is resentment.

End result? We feel bad in order that the other person can feel good!

When we behave this way we are out of integrity with ourselves.

We are not being true to ourselves.

In essence we are lying.

This may sound harsh, but it’s true. We think we’re being kind by saying Yes, but lying to ourselves and the other person is the opposite of kind.

Sometimes the way we say NO is to make up excuses for why we can’t do something. But that’s just another form of lying.

Taking care of our own needs first

Saying No when we mean No is an act of self-love and self-care.

It is about taking care of our own needs first.

Contrary to our conditioning as women, taking care of our own needs first is not selfish.

In fact, putting yourself last is an act of selfishness! I’ll be talking about why that’s true in Part 4 of this blog series next week.

Saying No when we mean No is about acting with integrity and being true to ourselves and our values.

So, how do we go about it? How can we say no with grace and elegance, and in a guilt-free manner?

Here are my five top tips:

(1) Be Clear on your Top Priorities and Values

Ask yourself if the request aligns with your top priorities and values. If you’re not sure what they are, take some time to reflect and decide. How do you want to spend your time and energy, what is most important to you right now?

When we’re very clear on our reason for saying no, it comes across with conviction, and most people will accept it without question.

And for those who don’t, their opinion will bother you less when you are very clear on your ‘why.’

(2) Be Clear on your Motivations

If you’re tempted to say yes, what is driving your decision?

Is it in line with (1) above or are you people-pleasing, approval-seeking or trying to take care of the other person’s feelings?

If it’s not in alignment with your top priorities and values – Just Say No!

(3) Take Time to make a Considered Decision

If you would like to say yes but genuinely don’t know if you have the time, say so. Tell the other person you need to check your schedule and get back to them.

Don’t feel pressured into giving an immediate response. If the other person tries to press you, tell them that unfortunately you can’t commit on the spot. Let them know that if they really need an immediate response right now, the answer will have to be no.

(4) Be in Control of your own Time

When somebody asks for a chunk of your time, decide how much you are willing and able to give, if any. Don’t let the other person dictate your priorities.

So, if you are asked to help out at the school fair for a whole day, and you don’t want to do that but will happily give an hour, say so.

If we don’t value our own time, you can’t expect anybody else to!

(5) Be Okay with other People’s Response to your NO

If you’re woman who is known for saying Yes to everything and anything, be prepared for a reaction. It may comes as a shock to some!

Some people may not like it when you suddenly start placing boundaries around your time and availability. They may not even believe you when you say No – after all you’re the woman who always says Yes! If this happens, restate firmly and with a smile that you can’t help on this occasion.

When you’re in integrity with yourself, you have no need to feel guilty or bad, or to justify or explain your decision, however the other person responds.

Remember that other people’s feelings are their responsibility, not yours.

Finally, remember that every time you say NO to something or someone, you are making space to say YES! to something else.

You are making space to say YES to yourself! What do you want to say YES to?

Bonus Tip No. (6): This one’s courtesy of one of my American colleagues:

“If it’s not a ‘Hell Yes!’ then make it a ‘Hell No!’ “

So, what will you say No to this Christmas? I would love to hear in the comments below how you plan to put the above tips into practice.  And if you have any other tips on how to Just Say No please share them!

Note: This blog post is one in a series of five about how to Survive Christmas with your Sanity Intact! You can read Part 1 and Part 2.

Worried your marriage may not survive Christmas?

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  1. I think I just got my answer of whether or not I should attend a close friends party this weekend. Already told her no but have received guilt from her and a sister and a friend! This post also serves as a great reminder to not give grief to those that can’t, or don’t want to, attend my parties.

    • Thanks for commenting Felicity, glad the post gave you some clarity. And you’re right, we should also respect other people’s decisions to say no to us. So often we choose to take it personally and make it mean something negative about us.

  2. I am saying Yes to as much as humanly possible, but that is OK. I am determined to enjoy my youngest’s final year in Infants and, if that means going to the matinee AND evening performance of her last ever Nativity, then so be it. I have said Yes to everything I could this season as I know that, when it is over, this is the time my husband and I will look back on with most fondness.

    Until we worked together earlier this year, I would have been deep in resentment and martyrdom at this stage. Now, I am taking the tiny amounts of time in between all the commitments to look at the photos and smile, feel grateful and count my blessings, knowing THIS is the best time of my life! Thank you Julie x

    • So happy for you that you feel this way Lisa. And that you are able to appreciate all the memories you are making NOW, in the midst of the busyness! Reading your comment made me feel all warm and fuzzy – Thank You! x

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