Learn to Say “No” When It’s Not Best for You

Coach Kate, BS, ACE, ACSTH

Kate Bielefeld is a personal trainer certified by the American Council on Exercise. She is an ICF certified coach practitioner by the Certified Coaches Alliance and the Approved Coaching Specific Training Hours program. She has a bachelor of science degree in exercise science and is a successful weight loss and behavior change coach. This powerlifting, coffee-chugging, mom of five has an expert knack for unlocking the untapped potential of the women she coaches. She’s helped hundreds of women reach their health and fitness goals so that they can live healthier, happier, and more fulfilled lives.
learn to say no

Understand The Benefit of Learning to Say No

 Just say, “no.”

As women, instinctually we are caretakers. In an instant, we can be ready to drop everything and step in to help as needed. 

For most of us, that means we don’t say “no” very often.

Saying no is uncomfortable. Immediately we can sense the disapproval of others as we decline and we feel their judgment. 

We jump to apologize and defend our reasoning. And we sure as heck better have a good reason for saying no, right?


Brene Brown suggests that we, “choose temporary discomfort over long-term resentment.”

If your answer isn’t a “hell yes,” it’s a “no.” 

We know it should be a “no,” so why don’t we just say it?


Fear of judgment.
Of not meeting expectations.
Of missing out.

Fear. In all forms.

Why Saying “No” Is So Hard

saying no

The word itself isn’t hard to say. I know this because I’ve watched each one of my kids begin to use their words in the first 9-18 months of life and “NO!” is one of the first ones they use.

Sure, it’s probably because I have to say it 1,000s of times when they are learning what not to do or touch. 

But the proof is there, the word is easy to say. And for tiny humans learning to navigate the world of decision making, if it’s not a “hell yes,” it’s a “no” from them. Trust me on this. It’s why we invented bribery! 

Why then, if I’ve had so much practice saying “no” to my kids (5 kids, multiplied by 1,000s of no = A LOT OF PRACTICE) is it so hard for me to say “no” to the unnecessary requests of other people?

I give up my time, my sleep, my fun, my workouts, my ambitions, my sanity … and for what? 

Why are we so willing to let our needs, wants and dreams take a backseat? 

When are we going to start treating ourselves like WE MATTER? 

The Benefits of Saying “No!”

The truth is that saying “yes” to someone else is a “no” to you. If it’s not a “hell yes,” it’s a no to whatever else you’d rather be doing. 

say yes to yourself

When you say…

“Yes, I’ll pick up a volunteer shift at the school concession stand,” you are saying “no” to the time you set aside to be with your family.

When you say, “Yes, I’ll help you paint your daughter’s bedroom,” you are saying “no” to the workout you had planned for today that’s essential in reaching your goals.

When you say, “Yes, I’ll take your kids for the evening so you can go out on a date with your husband,” you are saying “no” to the quiet night in. 

You are saying “no” to a bath you had planned for yourself so that you could recharge your batteries, recover from sore muscles and give yourself the 30 minutes of quiet you’ve been chasing all day!

The flip side is this: when you say “no” to the extra projects, the volunteered time commitments, the fixing of other people’s problems and giving away your services and advice for free you’ve just said “YES!” to yourself! 

If it’s not a “hell yes,” it’s a “no.”

A “no” to someone else is a “YES!” to you. 

Saying “no” protects you.

It set boundaries.

Every time you say “no” to the things that do not fit into your purpose, the things that don’t align with your goals, and the things that distract you from taking action toward living the life you desire-you are saying “YES!” to the things you want and need to focus on. 

Say No in 3 Easy Steps

value of saying no

Treat yourself like YOU MATTER.

Give yourself a “hell yes!”

Here’s the easy 3-step process to getting to “no” so you can give yourself the “yes” you deserve.

  1. Decide if the request is something you absolutely can’t miss. If it’s not a “hell yes,” it’s a “no.”
  2. Say “no” … or “no, thank you.” Then say nothing. You don’t owe an excuse or a reason. If your inner dialogue resembles this “I should just help her… I should just…” chances are resentment will follow. Should is usually loaded with feelings of guilt and external pressures.
  3. Focus on what you just said “yes” to. Did you just decline drinks after work so you could go home and see your kids before they went off to bed? Then don’t let the guilt of the “no” take away the beauty of what has come from the yes you gave to yourself. Focus on the gift you just gave yourself.

Put Yourself First

The “no” that hurts us the most is the one we say to ourselves when we don’t say the no we need to say to others.

 You matter, act like it. Start saying no.



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