Helping women to say “No”

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Chantelle K. Dockter, MA,
Licensed Professional Counselor,
Tualatin, Oregon

Question: It seems like each week I am approached by someone who needs something from me, and now I feel drained and spent, yet I can’t seem to say no. Help!

Answer: As women, we wear many different hats and have many versatile roles to fulfill. That of wife, mom, employee, student, daughter…the list goes on. We desire to be the best at all we do, which is a tall order, even just doing the bare minimum! As the demands pile up, we feel the pressure to give more and more, and the weight of guilt if we say no. Usually the prospect of feeling guilty is so undesirable that we end up saying yes to whatever is proposed of us, leading to burnout.

This is the case of the “broken no”. Many women simply do not say no, and therefore forget how to use their “no” appropriately to avoid unnecessary exhaustion. We simply cannot do everything and do it all well, so those closest to us end up getting the leftovers and suffer along with us. We need to stop viewing no as a bad word and realize it has its’ place. Saying no when a commitment is too much is saying yes to quality versus quantity, and let’s others know where your boundaries are.

There are many honorable intentions and motivations with wanting to be involved at church, the PTA, and community activities. This involvement can bring joy and fulfillment for both the giver and the receiver. The joy is lost when we try and give more than we have to give, in both time and energy.

To determine if a request “fits” on your plate, ask yourself if you have adequate free time that can be utilized without anything you are already committed to suffering. This includes the day-to-day responsibilities of family time, work, as well as some down time to personally regroup. Our society gives the message that the busier the better, which is not always the case. Remember, if we always say yes to requests, the demands will continue to grow until they threaten to overwhelm and overtake us. Knowing your limits is a healthy thing, and trust me…there are always other people that will say yes during those times when we need to say no.

By, Chantelle K. Dockter, MA,
Licensed Professional Counselor
Associate of Christian Counseling Centers of OR and WA
cccow.org