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Learning to Say No

LearntoSayNoAfter months of scrimping and saving, [my husband] and I had enough to put an offer on a house we’d fallen in love with. Our offer was accepted, and a moving date was set for five weeks later.

I reveled in the joy for about a second, when the reality of the situation finally hit. What am I thinking? I can’t add the responsibilities of moving to my plate! I was barely keeping my head above water as it was. There was no way I could find time to pack up the house in five weeks too.

I was also in the midst of helping launch an intensive train­ing event for bloggers. Guess when this event was scheduled? Right during the time when my family was supposed to be moving!

As I contemplated how on earth I was going to pull off the event and moving, all while juggling everything else going on in my life, I started to panic. In the past, when big projects were piled on my plate, I’d simply pushed harder, gotten less sleep, and powered through. This time I knew I didn’t have enough steam in my engine to do that. Just considering it was completely overwhelming me.

Finally, I sat down with my husband and tearfully told him, “I can’t do this anymore. I’m overwhelmed. I’m exhausted. Help!”

I was expecting a big hug or words of sympathy. And if I’m totally honest, I wanted a pat on the back for a job well done, you know, for my Superwoman efforts. I didn’t receive the response I’d hoped for, but I got something better. Unfortunately, I didn’t appreciate it at the time.

My husband looked at me sympathetically and then uttered some of the wisest words he’s ever said to me. “Crystal, you know that you are the one who is bringing most of this on yourself.”

Despite the truth and wisdom in his words, they were the last ones I wanted to hear. His statement only made me more frustrated at how stuck I felt. Instead of taking the epiphany to heart, however, I wallowed in a woe-is-me rant in my head. I felt sorry for myself and continued to blame everyone except the cause of my problems—me.

I mulled over what my husband said later that evening. As much as I didn’t want to admit it, I knew he was right. I didn’t have to spend so many hours blogging. I didn’t have to be on the event-planning team for the blogger event. I didn’t have to say yes to every commitment and opportunity that came my way. Nobody and nothing was obligating me to do anything except me!

Finally, I had reached my tipping point. Relief washed over me, and I felt the weight of all the burdens I was shifting around release. I had more control over my life than I realized. I could stop the madness. I could eliminate the chaos. I could start set­ting boundaries. I could start saying no.

Yes, I was the problem. But I was also the solution.

In the days that followed, I made some drastic changes. I stepped down from the event-planning project. I said no to all business offers that came my way. I shut down almost all my social media channels. I stopped feeling obligated to other people. I started making sleep a priority. I hired more help with my business. I stopped trying to be Superwoman.

Sure, some people were disappointed in me—and weren’t shy to voice their opinions—but I had never felt so at peace. I finally felt like I was living. Really living. . . .

Time doesn’t expand limitlessly. When I say yes to one thing, I must say no to something else. For example, if I choose to make getting up early a priority, I have to say no to staying up late on a regular basis. It also means I have to routinely say no to worth­while activities and events that would keep me out late. In order to say yes, I must learn to say no.

I don’t like saying no. But if my struggles and health issues a few years ago taught me anything, it was this: If I want to live a productive, efficient, happy, peaceful, and disciplined life, I must learn to say no. And I must say it often.

Crystal Paine is a child of God, wife, homeschool mom of three, author, and speaker. In 2007, she founded MoneySavingMom, a site that has since grown to become one of the most popular blogs on the web, currently averaging a million readers per month. Her mission is to challenge women to wisely steward their time and resources and live life on purpose.

Fhttp://store.womenoffaith.com/say-goodbye-to-survival-mode.htmlrom Say Goodbye to Survival Mode: 9 Simple Strategies To Stress Less, Sleep More, And Restore Your Passion For Life. Copyright © 2014 by Crystal Paine (Thomas Nelson, Inc.) Used by permission.


  1. 5 months ago
    Debra says

    Boy, that hit right between the eyes and it’s me all over. Time to re-evaluate – thanks for the words of wisdom

  2. 5 months ago
    Sheila says

    Because I would not say “no”, my health suffered to the point where I had to retire two years earlier than planned (which has worked out beyond belief). In retrospect I placed more importance in pleasing people than pleasing God. Even when saying yes to worthy things be sure to ask God first! If this is an area which is a real problem for you, get an accountability partner.

  3. I understand this so much. And every time I read your story, it hits home all over again. We recently moved from Kansas to California. Well, 8 months ago. And I was pushing myself so hard way before that. I kept wondering why I kept getting pneumonia, but I was living such a fast paced life with work and volunteer efforts, it’s amazing I wasn’t sicker. I was trying to do it all. I was working full-time nights, didn’t sleep on Fridays at all in order to get things done, I stayed up all Monday before going to work. And even though I hated when everyone kept telling me I just had so much more time than them, it’s not like I was proving otherwise. I was MAKING the time. I was killing myself to do it, but I was still doing it. And I constantly find myself back in that same cycle, as I’m addicted to the chaos and the busy. So while at first I saw the move to California as almost a punishment (we moved here for my husband’s job and I had to leave mine) and my husband didn’t want me to immediately go back to work, I’ve started to look at it as a sort of rehab. I needed to detox. I needed to shut myself off and figure out my triggers. And since I never know how to say “no,” I figured here’s my chance to start anew and eventually have different sorts of relationships than I had in Kansas. I needed to fight my addictions of chaos, people-pleasing, and most of all, saying “yes” to most things I should have said “no” to. I needed to make myself calm down, even if I didn’t want to. Even if I wanted to pile everything on again, I needed to fight those addictive urges. Because while the chaos worked, and I made it work, my family and I were still suffering, I was just too busy to notice.

  4. “absolutely a must do” Thank you so much for this great reminder!

  5. 5 months ago
    Paige says

    Thanks for sharing this, Crystal. I am struggling in this area too, that after I say no to so much, who am I? What is left? God and I are working through the answer to this, but for now, I know I am Paige, the one whom Jesus loves. That’s all I need right now. Good luck on the move!

    • 5 months ago
      Beth says

      Amen! I have struggled with this for years and God has finally started removing some stressors from my life and showing me that I needed to start valuing my own time-time away from work, time away from family. It’s a hard adjustment, but so worth it!