Say Maybe to No Before Yes

Habits comfort and constrict. Reading at night before you go to sleep signals to your body and mind that the day is at an end and dreams are up ahead. Planning your day puts you in control of the hours, or at least makes you feel that way. Saying yes all the time puts me in a bind. I know that no is a good word. It’s just that it sounds so negative I find it difficult to say.

The power of saying no without feeling the guilt of letting someone down or hurting someone’s feelings is a power I’ve just started wielding. Trying to wield, is a more accurate statement. I haven’t gone all power hungry and “Just Say No” tyrant on the world. I’m just saying no a little bit more.

I’ve said no in the past. But I’ve never stopped with “no, thank you.” No, I must add a reason­–I already have plans with so-and–so, or an excuse­­–can’t make that date, or apology–I’m so sorry I just don’t have room in my schedule. I do the same thing when I receive a compliment.

“Your necklace is beautiful.”

“Oh, thank you, it’s my mother’s aunt’s hand-me-down, wasn’t even sure if I liked it when I got it.”


“I like your dress.”

“Nordstrom on sale, double points too. I’m sure they have more at the Michigan Avenue store.”


“Your story was enjoyable.”

“Well, you know, gee, I just keep getting in these crazy situations.”

My mother always told me to just say, “thank you,” and move on when someone says something nice about you. Instead, I say, “thank you,” and run on and on and on.

The real problem with just saying no might be related to my habit of initially responding with a yes to any question, offer or idea. This then leads me to behave like an appellate court, and reverse my lower court decision, replacing a yea with a nay. And like any good court, I must issue an opinion documenting the whys, wherefores and whatevers of my decision.

Aha! Perhaps the next step in becoming comfortable with the no word is to learn how to say, “Let me think about it,” or “maybe”, or “sounds wonderful however.”  If I’m not justifying a change of mind maybe I won’t feel the need to justify at all.  Maybe, just maybe.


  1. One thing I’ve found with many of us “midlife” women bloggers is that we are apologizing for the fact that we blog at all. “It’s just something I like to do,” we say. “You don’t have to read it if you don’t want to.” I no longer do that. Saying thank you when someone says they like my blog has been a huge step in learning to value what I am and what i do.

    • Julie (Author)

      I’m not sure how easy it is for me to blog, but I sure do like to share and blogging is the sharing medium these days. So, no apologies – it’s just who I am.

  2. Enjoying your blog once again after a few week hiatus of work craziness. This post caught me thinking of the war that I experience between my right and left ear on a daily basis with similar “too much info” comments. You made me laugh here….and I’ll try to log in more often for the daily dose of insanity! Thanks Angel.

    • Julie (Author)

      Nice to see your name/note again. Thanks so much for sharing in my insanity. I hope to keep you laughing! Angel

  3. Saying no is so much more difficult for women than for men. I imagine more so for a certain generation, though I’m not convinced this isn’t a cultural trait passed along and reinforced by media that tells us (still) that we can and should “have it all” which so often means (wearily) “doing it all.”

    No can be liberating. It can also be necessary to survival.

    Now if only we could can the guilt that comes along with a “no” that allows us more of a “yes.” I agree with you that getting into a habit (practice?) of saying “maybe” first would facilitate taking more time before an automatic “yes.”

    • Julie (Author)

      Agree, agree. Thanks for you thoughtful comment. Now, I must go back to practicing my new vocabulary!

Leave a Reply


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers