It can be very hard to say No, especially if we like to please people. Too often, our default is to say a compliant, people-pleasing Yes.

But every time we say Yes to one thing, we are saying No to something else, because we have a limited number of hours in our day, and days in our lives, so when we say Yes to other people’s projects and desires, too often we are saying No to our own projects and desires.

So ask yourself: whose projects and desires are more important to you? 

no soulTime is your most precious resource, and it is not renewable. When today is gone, it is gone forever. Be sure that you are spending it the way that you want to spend it.

There is a story about the world-renowned psychologist, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, wishing to interview the educator Peter Drucker for his book on creativity. Drucker, far from being flattered by the request from the great man, rather waspishly responded that he didn’t believe in creativity, he believed in productivity, and if he accepted every interview request that came his way he wouldn’t have time to be productive, so no, he was not willing to be interviewed.

Drucker knew that his own productivity was his priority, so he had no problem saying no, regardless of who was doing the asking.

Often, our Yes is fear-based.

We say Yes to paid work because we don’t trust sufficiently that the Universe will support our Work*. We say Yes because we’re afraid that if we say No we will disappoint people, and they may not like us any more. We say Yes because we are afraid of missing out, not trusting that, if something or somebody is meant to be in our lives, the opportunity will come around and again and again until things are as they are meant to be.

And what is the upshot of all that Yes, and not enough No? We end up exhausted, addicted, depressed, stressed out, angry, frustrated, and ill.

When our mind can’t say No, our body will.

no boxWhen we don’t do the things that nurture our spirit, but allow ourselves to be pushed and pulled and sidetracked into other people’s projects, we end up paying a heavy price for neglecting ourselves and our souls.

If you don’t yet know what your Work is, it can be easy to say Yes. You can convince yourself that this request might open a door that will help you find your Work. Occasionally, that may be true. So you can keep on saying Yes to everything, and hope that eventually you stumble across the thing that will inspire your life’s Work.

Or you can say No to those alluring invitations, and instead spend your precious time looking into your heart, deciding what you want, and then manifesting it into your life with clarity, intention, and purpose.

Real life is a dance between both, between intention and serendipity. So look to your heart for guidance. If something excites you, say Yes. If not, push aside your inner voice of must and should and ought, and express your desire.

Use your No as an opportunity to reaffirm to yourself what you really want.

“Thank you for the offer/invitation. That sounds very tempting, but right now my priority is to focus on my Work/self-care/etc.”

Be mindful about your Yes and your No, making your choice from a position of wisdom, courage, strength and self-care, and watch the magic happen.


Blog-0016-Smiling-For-No-Reason*Work with a capital W is used to denote your soul work for this lifetime, as opposed to work with a lowercase w, which is the job of work that you do for money.



Take some time to meditate or journal on these questions (and if you don’t have enough time, say No to something so you make time!):

  • Where do I give away my time too easily?
  • What is stopping me from saying No?
  • If I had a month of no distractions, how would I choose to spend my time?


Top Tip:

Before you say Yes to anything, ask yourself these five questions:

  • Is it necessary?
  • Will it bring greater good to my life or the planet?
  • Will it fail to happen without my participation?
  • Do I have the time?
  • Do I really want to do it?

Your answer has to be ‘yes’ to at least four, including the last one, for you to say Yes.





  • Your blog on saying NO really resonates with me. I am retired, but am learning the hard way I can’t do everything, but I need to focus on my passions and say NO to everything else. Your comments about pleasing others is so true. It’s hard to refuse people, but I am working on that.

  • Ah Roz, once again you have surfaced into my life, the Divine soul you are. I’m in a desperate struggle between caring for my angry,stubborn and very ungrateful 90 year old parents and my lifelong calling. At 63 I finally found my true calling and have had to put it aside almost completely. My parents are not themselves as I once new them. There is no love, no hugs, never a thank you. My health is suffering. What is an only child to do? I think of you often. Years ago I wrote of helping the Island Nation of Kiribati that you were fortunate enough to visit. Thank you again for setting me straight.

  • An added benefit to saying no is the feeling of controlling your life. This is one of Daniel pink’s key factors to a fulfilling life.

  • Hi Roz,
    I gain my courage especially from my physical achievements.Because They are countable,more concrete and manageable.I do not only take my courage from them but also my mindset. .But Raising a child,improving relationships are relatively vague and hard to manage.However you noticed in me that İ can explore my steps by asking myself questions like the ones you emphazise on your blog.Thank you.

    Akif Kıral

  • When someone says no to you, try not to feel hurt or rejected, but feel compassion for the person who had to say no to you.

    I was lucky enough to spend a year travelling around New Zealand once, receiving a total of 248 lifts. Rather than thinking of this way of travel as begging for a lift, I thought of it as a symbiotic invitation to share. The benefits to me were a lift, and meeting someone new; and the benefits to them were meeting someone new and the warm feeling of being able to help someone out. I always felt for the people who would mouth the words “sorry” to me, and hoped they wouldn’t feel bad for not being able to accept my invitation.

    Expect nothing. Smile, and go lightly on your way with no thoughts of final attainment – and you will always have a good journey.

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