Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

Therapy Thursday: Keep Saying No

pocket therapist front cover small.jpgI have decided to dedicate a post on Thursday to therapy, and offer you the many tips I have learned on the couch. They will be a good reminder for me, as well, of something small I can concentrate on. Many of them are published in my book, “The Pocket Therapist: An Emotional Survival Kit.

Just as important as saying yes, is saying no.


If you’re unable to utter this consonant-vowel combination, then practice this paragraph several times in front of a mirror:

You know, I’d love to help you out by hosting an Arbonne cosmetics party, but my schedule is so crammed right now with the kids’ lacrosse and soccer, and with my therapy and learning good boundaries–rehearsing script after script on how to say no tactfully–that I simply can’t fit it in at this time. I’m sure that the products are unparalleled in quality … just like the Longaberger basket I bought at the last party for a bargain price of $300. Try someone else?

  • TeriCA

    Still learning how to say no. After years of therapy, and poor boundaries–I’ve learned to say positively all that is going on in my life, and people know I am very busy. There has never come a time recently where I had to say no. Especially since the kids are gone.
    Good boundaries are literally a life-saver. I know that had I had good boundaries when the kids were growing up, life probably would have been a great deal less hectic. thanks for letting me vent.

  • Hilary Chaney

    And here comes the depression….I’ve just started blogging about my own manic break and hospitalization. It’s about recovery and treatment, but more importantly about discovery of a new post-religion faith where there is no hell, no original sin, you are God, and heaven on earth is real, radiant and right around the corner. A wild and triumphant ride.

  • Michael

    I say NO all the time. People try to manipulate you with their approval if you will do something for them even if you don’t want to do it. People with depression crave approval so saying NO is hard sometimes. I think it is an important part of recovery. Setting boundaries and controlling how your precious time will be spent builds self esteem.

  • GD Crawford

    There is one single magic word that I have learned… “overcommited”. Practice saying that one. “I’m sorry, but I’m overcommited right now”.
    No one can argue with that. And if they do, take the advice of my father. He told me years ago that I don’t owe everyone an explanation.
    So if someone can’t respect your time, then it’s not your problem.

  • Laurel

    This advice was exactly what I needed to hear today. I have someone I need to say “no” to, and I’m going to go do just that.

  • Colletta

    I’ve struggled with overcommitting and putting too much pressure on myself lately.
    I’ve posted about my struggle presently and how I’m hoping to make some changes. I would really apprecite any input.

  • Joe Gonzalez

    Hey, Therese !
    You know, not so long ago, i read someplace that the first word in a child’s education is: NO. Sounded so right ! i tell all my family & friends of this very, very important reality. Some rationalizations :
    If you cannot say no to yourself, you’ll never develop virtue or character. I’m not talking about prudishness or puritanism. It’s just the way it IS. we are fallible beings on the way. and being fallible means making mistakes. sometimes when we can’t say no is because we excuse ourselves too easily deep-down.
    NO ! Just like that ! with or without exclamation point. No, you can’t hav that toy. Why ? Because i say so. U can’t explain evryting to a child, or you’d be there for hours. And with oneself also : No !
    Yes, i like smoking, but i have emphysema. So Stop ! No more…or…on your dying bed ( forgive being so blatant ) you’ll be saying : ” Why didn’t i stop before ? ” So : No. No, i don’t wanna go there. Why ? i don’t like that place. But why ? And we’re back to : just because. It takes too long to explain my likes and dislikes. You family of mine, then you do as i say, as i have to do as u say, if it’s reasonable. You my friend ? Then you’ll tacitly accept my likes and dislikes. Friends are not mirrors. They’re PERSONS. You like, I like ? Good ? No like ? OK. ( Goodbye [ maybe ] )
    PS. i’m in an OCD mood.

  • Sandy

    We often get on a treadmill of indulging self, as well as others. Its easy. We want to be nice. We end up being doormats. We run ourselves ragged. We get fed up. Downhill from there.
    I was helping an elderly (93 y,o,) woman who stopped driving for obvious reasons. Ain’t I sweet?
    At first she was scared because she suddenly got very sick, and had to go to the doc or lab every week. Then to the specialist. It was a privilege to take her, to offer my arm and lead her up the stairs, on the elevator (she’s afraid of elevators).
    It extended into grocery shopping, OK, anything you want, dear. I’m here for you.
    Then the bank at another grocery store, and a slow cruise of the aisles with her coupons. Saved 25 cents on an item over-priced by a dollar. OK, just go with it.
    OK, sure we can stop at the other grocery store and I will run in and go to the pharmacy all the way in the back, and pick up your prescription along with your frozen yogurt, which is 50 cents cheaper here.
    Oh, OK, here we are again next week, same drill, why didn’t you order ALL your prescriptions that are due instead of waiting till there is only 2 days worth left? Making this a weekly trek.
    Why don’t we go to the bank, the drugstore with the drive-up window, that are in the same parking lot as the cheap grocery store, which is 3 min. away. ? Because I reinforced my desire to do ANYTHING her little heart desired till I got fed up, and couldn’t help but feel taken advantage of.
    Since then, since I myself got sick, she has found other people to do all these things for her. Makes contact with more people that way. Obviously didn’t need to when I was so eager to please.
    Yeah, those parties. Obligatory purchase, too embarrassed to ever have one myself, like saying overspend on x, so that I can get y for free. Want to be a hostess? Pampered Chef was always my favorite, great things for the kitchen, but how good does my spatula need to be? Bought a Longabarger basket, empty, from a poinsettia, at a garage sale for 25 cents. Despite all efforts, couldn’t find the right plant/place for it, sent it to Goodwill. If only it could talk, what a journey it has made !
    Oh, the tangled web we weave !

  • Dave Allen

    I needed to hear all of these posts today. Long story but just learning how to pronounce the word, “NO”. I believe it is also a complete sentence.

  • gail

    Thanks i needed to hear that my daughter that has 4 kids depends on me and my car and i had to tell her no yesterday because she is over using it for unnecessay running around and i am the one paying the payment the gas the repairs and now i am told i do nothing for her or for her kids..well guess what NO No NO..i am sick of being used do it without me yeah..can’t see the kids oh well your loss i keep them 3 out of 4 groceries oh well do it yourself..ungrateful..

  • Sue

    I had struggled for a long time with the word NO. I wanted to plese everyone but all it did is make me miserable. I also noticed that I would sometimes resent these people, when really it was my own inability to say “NO” that caused the resentment. I saw a show on this subject and took away a few bits of info that I still use today. When someone asks me to do anything I don’t just blurt “sure” I say things like; Let me think about that, or I have to check if there is already something going on that day. It gives me a way to decide if I do want to do something or not. Hope this helps! Been there.

  • Dolphin

    Actually, I think you do not need to defend yourself at all. Just say,” Thank you for thinking of me and I hope you have a successfull party”. Turning down a cosmetics party is easy. I would just say that I do not want to change from my successful (Mary Kay) skin care plan. As far as expensive, luxury items, I compliment the requestor with their good taste and tell them I don’t have the need for it right now. When they try to hook me with hostessing to save money, I then use the excuse that I have a lot on my plate right now. I don’t state the ‘plate’ details, unless it is really believable, like I am planning my wedding. I just try to be sure the hostess does not take the rejection personally.

  • Barb

    How easy it is sometimes to say “no” to others, such as: “No, don’t do that. No, you can’t have that. No, you can’t go.” But we do not tell ourselves: “No, don’t do that,you can’t go, or you can’t have that”.

  • S

    I must say that I enjoyed reading the posts more than the blog itself.. I did purchase the “Pocket therapist” and found it very interesting & coupled with Therese’s humor makes for a must read.
    Joe & Sandy..really enjoyed readin ur posts..wa

  • Jean

    Ok, the words may come out “Sorry, I can’t make it” but how do you get rid of the guilt? Even when I am doing something else and truly can’t fulfill the request, I feel so darn guilty that I turn it around and hate myself for not being able to do what is asked of me.

  • Gail F

    I had to learn how to say ‘No’ in 1991. I had a medical accident happen to me, and had to drop out of a lot of things. Before that I was THE volunteer person. I had 3 kids, two were teenagers, and I was a stay-at-home mom. (one of the many people who keep things running, with no pay). At first I could use the accident as an excuse, then I came down with Fibromyalgia. Now my kids are grown and I have grandchildren. When I tell them I cannot babysit, it is actually sometimes, harder on me than it is them. I know that some days are a complete wipe-out for me and I am not up to watching children. One of my children, seems to understand this,the other two, I am not sure of. To gail, with the ungrateful daughter, if she is married, they need to get a second car….if she is single, she needs to get a car. With 4 kids, a car is a must, not a luxury and it is not your resonsiblity to provide her with one. I have given to one of my kids until, he has started making it hard on me financally, so now every time he wants to borrow money, I tell him I don’t have any. (which I really don’t). I am divorced, disabled and living on less than $18,000 a year. Our kids have to grow up and take care of themselves. Start by saying NO.

  • billie

    I was also a people pleaser and with that comes a lot stress and double-booking. My sister-in-law and niece were the main culprits in the “favor” game. It was hard at first to not want to jump everytime they needed something, since my brother passed several years ago. The guilt would eat at me all the time. I had to learn that I have other obligations that are important to me and needed attention. I still struggle with this from time to time, with close friends as well but I have started focusing a lot of energy on my life and my goals and that doesn’t leave a lot of open space in my agenda to be a taxi, a personal shopper or personal assistant. I often find inspiration from this blog and have shared it with friends as well. I will look into getting the book, it might even make a great gift!

  • Marlene

    My best friend is always trying to save everyone at the cost of herself. This is what I’ve told her. When flying the instructions read as follows: Place the oxygen mask over your face first than assist your child or loved one. You cannot help someone else if you do not take the steps to take are of yourself first so that you are capable. Life is general is the same. Do for yourself first so that you can give 100% of yourself. But, remember not 150% of yourself because than you are left with nothing!

  • GAIL


  • Your Name Selenia

    All my life I was the problem solver for everybody and to learn how to say NO was a huge dilemma. The guilt was heavier than trying to pull the Titanic out of the water. Today I only have one person that I’m having problems saying NO to, my youngest son. Will I ever? That is the question.

  • D_Bunker

    Hi Therese;
    Susan from has landed in the hospital. Her kidneys shut down & she’d love to hear from you if you can call. Drop me a note @ &
    i’ll give you the phone number rather than post it publicly.

  • RRoss

    I don’t usually read comments-put this one is “point on”
    My issue: a retired husband, who doesn’t have enough to do and has become the enabler for one daughter-single mom with grandchild, but not the others who have spouces. I love them all dearly, but he cannot see that this is not just helping out, but justifying his own existence. Because we don’t live in a vacumme-I am sucked along (not a word I would usually use and don’t even like).
    I love spending time with all the grandchildren, but I have things to get done and an energy supply that does not match what I would like to do. Of course, if they truly needed the help, I would be there. At any age, help your children learn to solve problems-when you take this away from them-it is devaluing them as an individual. Just venting!

  • Nancy

    I have learned a long time ago, to say “no”to lots of things that friends & family will ask of me. life is way, way too short not to put yourself first!!!!
    No one was designed to be a “door mat”for anyone else. AND once you say, “YES”to things you don’t want, to do, for any reason YOU have, then they will take advantage of you, again,and again.
    God Bless,

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  • F. T.

    I’ve learned the hard way-from experience to say no w/out feeling guilty. Too me, it’s assertive behaviour rather than being passive, (a push-over).

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