When To Do Things For Other People and How to Say No


Of course.

I'll be ready in five minutes.

Whatever you want.

I'm fine with anything.

These are the phrases I have said the most in my life. Sometimes because I genuinely felt like saying it, and other times because I thought I had to -- that I would be a disappointment otherwise. I'm just the type of person to feel obliged to say yes whenever someone asks me to do something, because I have this underlying fear that if I say no, I'll be missing out on something, hurting the other person's feelings, or that they'll think I'm a jerkalope.

I've decided this behavior needs to stop. It destroys too much and takes up precious time. So here is my list of rules for when someone asks for help, and how I will shape my responses from now on. Perhaps you will adopt some as well?

It's okay to help out or say yes when...

  • Your heart is in the right place. You want to bless this person. You want to see them succeed.
  • You don't want to. It might be good for you, and get you out of that funk. It could change your mind and put you back on the path of empathy.
  • You have the time to do it authentically and with your 100%.
  • You're pumped to be involved and you're excited to get started.

It is not okay to help out or say yes when...

  • You don't feel like it. Sometimes you can't force yourself, and that's okay.
  • You feel like you're being forced or swindled into it. Tell them you want to think about it, or learn to just say NO. It saves them time and it saves you precious energy.
  • You have an ulterior motive. You want to be there because you want to know what's going on or what you may be missing out on.
  • You want to make yourself feel bad, either by taking on too much and tipping toward failure, or just to put yourself in a situation where you're comparing yourself to others. This kind of self-sabotage is not okay!
  • You're worrying about what the other person will think of you if you walk away or turn them down.

Ways I can say "no"... *

* To be said honestly and sincerely, without sarcasm, snark, or snippiness
  • No, thank you.
  • I have too much on my plate right now.
  • I really need to prioritize X right now.
  • Though I would love to help out, I don't think I have the time. I'm a full-time student juggling a lot of commitments, to myself, my family, and my mentors. I'm sorry, I wish I could do more.
  • I have a paper due tonight.
  • I'm afraid I can't.
  • I'm not comfortable doing that.
  • How lovely of you! Unfortunately, I can't because...

I believe God wants us to serve people. But I also believe there is a fine line between being a genuine help and then just feeling obligated to say yes. You can't truly help someone if you are in a frazzled state of disarray, so let's choose to take care of ourselves so we can help others.

Fill up your cup before pouring out unto others.


  1. Great post, Rosie! I agree: I feel like I “have to say yes” to people all the time. These are great tips! *takes out notebook and pen to write them down*

  2. This is THE HARDEST thing to learn. I so struggle with saying no, because I want to be everything for everyone, but it's just not healthy, and I know it. Thanks for the encouragement. <3

  3. this is such a great reminder... sometimes i find myself so stretched out and anxious that i can barely function! keep blogging!


  4. No always gets to me. There are also certain people in my life that are harder to say no to too! My dad is one of them. We don't have the best relationship so I feel guilty when I do say no to him. But your right saying no isn't a bad thing. Thanks for this post! Thanks as well for the sweet comments on my blog <3
    Simply Me

  5. I also have a big problem saying no!! I never want to hurt people's feelings.

    Nabila | Hot Town Cool Girl


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