Learn To Say No

This week has been a challenging to say the least – I have been overwhelmed!

With the number of things that I have on my to do list, my plate has been very full and as a result, I have neglected some important things.


Here is a quick preview of what my weekly schedule is like. I have a full time job, I am a part-time doctoral student, so there is studying/assignments to complete etc., I blog, attend Sunday worship, mid-week Bible study, youth night on Fridays and the occasional youth board meetings. And of course, I can’t forget going to the gym, practicing yoga and then I have to ensure that I leave some for my family, friends and my relationship.

I’m sure that I am missing some things but you get the gist. As long as I can remember, my plate has always been full. That is what I am use to – My Mom is quite the busy body and I can clearly see now that she has gifted me with this attribute!

In my last few years of high school, I was involved in 14 extra-curriculum activities. In a short span of two years, I managed to complete over 450 community service hours, and not because I had to. My high school required seniors to complete only 20 hours of community service but I wanted to do more – I enjoyed all that I did!  That same attitude followed me to University – being on several committees.

All the time I have given to these various causes, in my younger years, have paid off positively. But now that I’m 25 years old, I am beginning to feel somewhat “burnt out”. See, I am a little older now and with a full time job (8:00am to 6:00pm most days) and all the other things that I have assigned myself to, I have had to take another look at what’s on my plate.

Yes, I have prioritised self-care this year however, taking time for yourself requires constant practice until it becomes second nature or should I say first nature…lol. Let it be known however, that I am still working hard at this.

So, as I was saying in the beginning, this week has been a challenging one for me. Not only did I have those items on my usual to-do list, I was appointed to a committee. I did not ask for this and nobody cared to ask if I had any interest or the capacity to take this on. Usually, I love taking on new things, I see it as an opportunity to step-out of my comfort zone and grow.

However, when I stopped to think about this new task, I immediately felt overwhelmed. I actually started to feel nauseated at the thought of adding anything else to my very, very full plate. This was not a one off thing that may require a couple hours on a weekend this was a commitment that would last at least a year. I knew immediately that it was time to say “No”.

Although I knew it was time to say no, I kept toggling with the idea of whether or not I should do it, seeking advice from my friends, family, boyfriend and even some of the ladies at the gym. All of whom told me that it was a definite “no” because they knew that my plate was already full.

One of my closest friends reminded me of my post last week, “25 Things I’ve Learned in 25 years”. She told me if she could give her 25 year old self advice it would be to “learn to say no”. That sealed it for me!


I know that God does not intend for us to get overwhelmed. Just because God gives you a gift, it does not mean that you have to give it out to everyone. You cannot say yes to every invitation. You have to be selective with your gift(s) and with your time. God does not want you to be worn out or your gifts to be abused.

Burn out is not a good place to be – you will be no use to yourself or to those who matter most to you.

Burn out can lead to:

  • Physical and emotional exhaustion,
  • Chronic fatigue,
  • Feeling a lack of accomplishment,
  • Loss of appetite, and
  • Anxiety.

Do not be afraid to say no because of the fear of missing out or disappointing others. Saying yes to everything can lead to burn out. There is a difference between saying ‘no’ to avoid stepping out of your comfort zone and saying ‘no’ because your plate is full.

Having a full plate does not give you much time to rest. Since we believe that we are made in the image of God and He allotted time to rest, why shouldn’t we?

The Bible says:

Genesis 2:2-3 (NIV) “By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.”

Exodus 23:12 (NIV) “Six days do your work, but on the seventh day do not work, so that your ox and your donkey may rest, and so that the slave born in your household and the foreigner living among you may be refreshed.

Psalms 127:2 (NIV) “In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat for he grants sleep to those he loves.”


We should not burn the candle on both ends. Assess all that you have on your plate, analyse how you are feeling about taking on that additional task, decide if you have the capacity to take it on and then make an informed decision. Saying no can help you live a happier, less stressful life.

For me, this time it was no, and that is okay.


Have you learned how to say, “no” yet? If you have, how has it changed your life? If you haven’t what is one thing you can challenge yourself to say no to? I’d be grateful for your comments.

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