“Learn to say no and it will do you more good than being able to speak several foreign languages.” -Unknown

Two year olds know how to say no without hesitation. Who teaches them how to do it? No one, they’re simply being honest about what they want and don’t want to do. As we grow up we learn about the rules and regulations of life and what holds trouble at bay, but for some reason we get confused about saying no.

There are huge campaigns and billboards about saying no to drugs and sex so we have a constant reminder. But, what about when it comes to drawing some boundaries with our time and commitments? Most of us are in way over our heads when it comes to the number of things we say yes to.

“Oh, sure I can make 8 dozen cookies for the PTA bake sale fundraiser. Why yes, I’ll keep your three kids while you go to a retreat. It will give my three each a friend to play with. I’d be glad to lend you $500.00. No problem, I’ll take your carpool week,” and on and on we go.

“Well, the homeroom mothers would talk about me it I didn’t bake this year.” Guess what, they’re going to talk if you bake or if you don’t bake. So cut yourself some slack. Everyone can handle different sized loads. The other mothers may all act like they have it all together, but don’t be fooled.

Maybe the first response should be no. Then think about it and if it’s something you really would like to do, call back later and ask if help is still needed. It’s much easier to say no, then say yes the next day, than to say yes and have a panic attack trying to figure out how you are going to follow through.

I remember Mrs. Hen, my junior high English teacher, explaining “no” is a complete sentence. It’s not necessary to fill in all the reasons or explanations for why you say no. We feel obligated to justify the no because, if we don’t have what we feel others would call a really legitimate reason, we feel we’re less than capable.

No is not only a complete sentence, it’s a powerful word. Using it will keep us out of the tall weeds most of the time. Who told us it’s not OK to say no?

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