A friend asks you to pet sit their dog for a week while they go on vacation. You want to be of help, and you want to be liked, but you want to say no, because you are already feeling overburdened. No one wants to sound selfish or miss an opportunity to help someone else, but saying “yes” to please others or feel generous can leave us exhausted and resentful. Before accepting a request, if you want to say no, but feel obligated to say yes, ask yourself if helping will be a burden to achieving your personal goals or deprive you of time or resources to solve your own problems.
We can’t help everyone, so here are a few ways to say no with grace when you need to:
- Rehearse saying no. “That doesn’t work for me as I’m just not up to it this time”, is a simple way to say no when we are not up to doing favors.
- Be honest, but it’s okay to be vague. “I already have a commitment that week” may be telling the truth without sharing why you are already stretched too thin.
- Focus on the good that will come from saying no rather than the guilt. Then turn your attention and time to your needs and priorities.
Saying no, doesn’t mean you will never help or do favors, but it does allow you to find a balance to spend your time on your goals and priorities, while also allowing time and energy for other people.