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Learn To Say No

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Learn To Say No

Sometimes the only thing that gets me through my week is knowing that I have one or two days coming up that are all to myself. I try to keep these days free from interruption so I can recharge. The daily grind can wear on you to the point where you need an entire day to get your mind and body right.  Most of the time, that second day off ends up full of errands before you start all over again. Instead of living like this until your next two week vacation, you can lessen the daily load by setting priorities and incorporating “no” into your vocabulary.

As a lifelong people pleaser, learning to say no is one of the biggest things I struggle with. It is easy to spread yourself thin if you say yes to everyone. The daily stressors that we all have become exponentially larger the more we put on ourselves. Your boss asks if you can pick up a shift on the weekend, a family member asks you to house sit while they are on vacation, or a friend needs help moving. With every choice there is an opportunity cost associated with it.  For me, the minor inconvenience is well worth it because of the peace of mind of the person I’m helping. These types of actions are similar to deposits and withdrawals you would make in a bank account.

The Relationship Bank Account is simple way to imagine how strong a relationship is. Close friends and family have a great relationship with the bank, so they can make larger withdrawals than a normal relationship because they have a long history of deposits and withdrawals. You aren’t worried about them possibly not returning the favor and allowing you to make a withdrawal in the future. Family and friends aren’t usually the problem when it comes to added daily stress and anxiety, because you enjoy helping them regardless of the favor. The relationships you should keep track of are the everyday acquaintance, coworker, boss, or friend of a friend.  

I’m not the type of person who is comfortable asking for help. I’d rather take four trips to a new place to move in, instead of asking to borrow someone’s truck. So when I start to do favors for people outside of my close relationship group, I can sense my relationship bank account with that person start to go into the red. This is where saying “no” becomes vital.

When you start to feel an overwhelming sense of anxiety or stress, you should start checking your relationship bank accounts and see which ones are in the red and which ones have the most activity. These relationships are no longer “profitable” for you or even worth keeping open. The weight you carry around from these have a significant effect on your happiness. Saying “no” to negative relationships, and even positive relationships sometimes, especially when you feel overwhelmed doesn’t make you a bad person. Your overall happiness is ultimately what’s most important. Your loved ones should understand and want that for you. If you feel the need to explain your reason for declining a request, tell the truth and say that you have too much on your plate at the moment. If you say no to the frequent negative balance relationships, you will notice that they stop coming to you for answers, problems, or errands.


There is a blog post by Derek Sivers called “Hell Yeah”. In it, he explains that you should only say yes to things that you are excited about. Everything else only drains your energy. Work is typically related to an activity we don’t want to do. When you enjoy what you are doing, you won’t work another day in your life. It takes time to get to the point where you can afford to say “no”. You’d be amazed at how much energy you have when you are doing things you actually enjoy.

Tanner LaBelle
Tanner LaBelle

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