The Beautiful NO – Part 4 | It's Me Laura Lee

July 6, 2021

The Beautiful NO – Part 4


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Laura Lee, 53, with invisible wounds and scars. I've learned to embrace PTSD and depression because if I don't own them, they'll own me.  I don't want to simply survive, but to thrive.  I hope you'll join me on my journey.  It's sure to be a bumpy road.


Personal Development




Deciding when and how to say no can be hard. But it gets easier if you understand the why behind your no. The truth is that most people offer a quick yes because they’re not sure of what they value.

However, if you know what you value and what truly matters to you, then your precious yes only gets spent in ways that honor you and allow you to live your best life. Here’s how to discover your values so you can proudly proclaim no to projects, opportunities, and causes that aren’t the right fit for you…

Consider Your Values

Most people have one to three core values that drive them. These values could be anything. For example, you might value family, travel, faith authenticity, success, or any number of other things.

If you’re having trouble getting clarity around your values, try to think of people you admire. Write down each name on a list and beside their name, write down why you

admire them.

Then go through your list and look for common traits. Maybe you value people that work hard, your value might be competence or responsibility. Perhaps you value people who prioritize relationships above all, your value might be connection or family.


Don’t Assign Labels to Your Values

When you begin looking at your values, you may feel guilt or frustration. It’s important to understand that there are no wrong or right values. This can be difficult to grasp if you’re surrounded by people that don’t share your principles.

Perhaps your family doesn’t understand that one of your values is travel because everyone’s lived in the same town for generations. You feel guilty for wanting more or craving something different.

But living an authentic life means being honest about what you value and letting your choices flow from those principles. Maybe you value quiet alone time and you’re surrounded by extroverts. It doesn’t make you wrong or those around you wrong to be different.

Think about Alignment

Now that you’ve done a deep dive into your values, it’s time to ponder if you’re living them out. It can be helpful to ask yourself, “Am I spending my time, money, and energy in alignment with my values?”

This can be an eye-opening exercise.  A friend, Tasha realized she valued her creativity but was spending very long hours at work and not pursuing her love of art. She saw she’d been raised to think her worth was found in how successful she was, but that didn’t align with her values. So, she made the decisions to cut back her hours and began spending more time in creative pursuits like drawing and painting, and refinishing antique furniture.

Spot the Inconsistencies

The more you understand your values, the more you’ll begin to spot inconsistencies in how you’re living. You might say you value compassion and kindness, only to find yourself gossiping about someone else with your co-workers.

At first, you may see a lot of inconsistencies and that’s completely normal. Don’t get overwhelmed or think that you have to correct your whole life overnight. Change is a process so be patient with yourself during this time.

Acknowledge that Values Change

As time goes on, you may have to periodically review your values and adjust them. That’s because values do change as you grow.

You might find that in your early twenties, you valued family and chose to be a stay-at-home parent over a fast-track career. But once your kids are grown, your values may shift, and you may choose to focus extensively on your career. It doesn’t mean one path was wrong and the other was right. It’s simply a reflection of changing values.

Your Relationships May Change Too

When you begin to live according to your values, you may notice shifts in your relationships. This is to be expected and it isn’t always a bad thing. In fact, it can be a good sign.

The people around you might be surprised by these new changes or worried they’re losing you. Be patient and reassuring with those you love but stick to your values. Don’t be bullied into doing what you’ve always done.


Choose Between Values

After you’re clear on your values, some choices might be obvious and it may be easy to say no to your friend’s invitation to go to Italy for a month if you don’t value travel and you’re focused on helping your child through a difficult time.

Other times, the choice may not be so straightforward. You may be asked to choose between two things that you strongly value. For example, you might value family time but also financial security. Your boss puts you up for a promotion that will provide financial security, but it will require that you work an extra ten hours a week. Which value will you lean into? Which opportunity will you say no to?

Again, it’s important to understand that there are no right or wrong answers here. It’s only a question of what you value most.

Perhaps you’re going through a difficult time financially and choose the extra hours. Maybe you’d rather cut back on expenses and not give up your family time. Both choices are good and valid. But you’re the only one who can make the decision.

Learning what your values are can be helpful in showing you what to say no to and what to embrace more of!


You’ve done the hard work of evaluating your commitments and determining your values. You’re ready to joyfully embrace the word no. There’s just one tiny problem. You don’t know how to actually say it.

When you begin saying no, expect that you’ll be saying it to co-workers, clients, friends, loved ones, and even your own children. Fortunately, saying no is a skill and anyone can learn it. Here’s how to handle your nay with grace…

I Can’t Commit To That At This Time

It’s simple and to the point. It lets you off the hook without going into an in-depth explanation or making an excuse for why you don’t want to attend your cousin’s cat’s third birthday party (families are complicated).

I Can’t (Won’t/Don’t)

Your no doesn’t always have to be complicated. Keep it simple and direct. You can say something like, “I can’t” or “I won’t do that” or even, “I don’t do that”. Said without judgement and a compassionate smile, you still come off looking great.

I’m Afraid that Doesn’t Align with My Current Priorities

This is like the “get out of jail free card” for co-workers who always want to load you down with their tasks. Remember, you don’t have to be the “team player” who rushes in and saves Procrastinator Polly from herself yet again.

I Can’t But I Would Recommend…

Sometimes, you want to help but you really can’t. In these cases, you could suggest an alternative solution. For example, you might say, “I’d love to help you with this writing project, but I can’t. I would recommend you reach out to Dan instead.”

I Don’t Want That. But I’d Be Open To…

This is the perfect way to turn someone’s request around on them. You’re saying no and providing an alternative that’s in alignment with your values. It’s like having your own superpower.

Don’t Offer Explanations

Most of the people in your life will respect your no on the spot. However, there are always a few busybodies and pushy types that will ask (or even demand) a justification. To them you can say, “I’d rather not get into right now.”

Don’t make the mistake of explaining yourself. First, if you do it once, they’ll expect you to justify yourself again in the future.

Second, they may try to resolve the issue for you. For example, you say no to your cousin’s cat’s birthday party. When asked why, you say that you have a date with your partner scheduled. Your mom says, “Oh, that’s great! Bring him along!”

Better to skip the awkward conversation altogether by refusing to offer an explanation in the first place.

No Apologies Offered

Don’t offer apologies when you’re saying no. It’s important to understand that you don’t owe anyone. Remember, the asker made a request of you, not the other way around.

At first, saying no is going to feel awkward and uncomfortable. That’s because you’re out of practice. But the more you do it, the easier it gets. Pretty soon, you’ll be able to say no without thinking twice!


The most important thing to understand about saying no is that the world won’t end if you do. Your kids probably won’t grow up to be warped. Your spouse will understand. Your co-worker will find someone else to badger about their project. Your friend will discover someone else she can complain to.

But the best part is you’ll be happier. You’ll wake up with more energy. You’ll be excited to face your days again and you’ll be able to embrace a new life—the kind where you only do what you want to!

Read Part 1

Read Part 2

Read Part 3

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comments   | 

  1. Lisa Manderino says:

    I love all of these ways to not commit and a polite way to express that.

  2. Very inspiring! It is so important to not loose our values. Recently, it came to light that my values did not align with some of my oldest friends values, and we ended up ending our friendships. It stung (I wasn’t the one to end them), but looking on it now, I realize it was necessary.

  3. Beth Shields says:

    Knowing your values is critical. It definitely can be the framework for decisions and once you have identified them, the decision making is certainly easier. Thanks for the article. A good read.

  4. Megan says:

    Being honest with myself is something I’ve been working on lately. It’s hard when it disappoints others, but freeing to myself!

  5. Ramae Hamrin says:

    What a good post about values. I remember reading a self-help book once where the very first thing the author had the reader do is write down values, since everything else needs to align with those. And saying no is such an essential part of that. You have given me some kind and polite ways to continue to do so. Thank you.

  6. Leeandra says:

    Great ways to say no politely.

  7. Holly says:

    Beautifully written! I love this series and the importance of being able to say no and love yourself is so important! Thank you for sharing your insight!

  8. It’s amazing how much easier your life gets when you start living life as it aligns with your values. It’s easier to say no to things when they just don’t fall in line. 🙂

  9. Jill DeMasi says:

    Very insightful post! I always feel better when I make decisions that are aligned with my values. It wasn’t until I was older that I started saying no to things that I knew were not worth my time.

  10. Brianna says:

    This is such a great and helpful post. Saying no is important even though it can be difficult to do. Boundaries are so important to have

  11. Tiffany Smith says:

    This is great- we need to normalize saying no and feeling okay with it when it doesn’t align with your own priorities

  12. Beautiful post. I’ve shared it with a friend because no isn’t a word she’s go at!

  13. Beth says:

    I’ve gotten much better at saying no than in earlier years, but I can still appreciate a great list of clear and simple ways to say it.

  14. I think women in general tend to feel that they have to take care of everyone’s needs and wants, causing us to feel guilty when we say no. Once we learn that no is a complete sentence and that we do not have to offer an explanation, we can become more comfortable with it. That brings freedom.

  15. Debbie says:

    Such a good series! Great points!

  16. Kristin says:

    It’s definitely better not to offer explanations for a no. But often hard to do. I see so much wisdom in that, though.

  17. Chelsea says:

    I needed to read this post today. I’ve been on the fence about a volunteer position I have. Like you said, my priorities are elsewhere. But guilt rides me and I feel like I have to apologize or serve out of obligation. I read the book The One Thing this summer and, like this post, is a good reminder to keep what’s important to me in mind when making decisions. Saying no is so hard.

  18. Alyssa says:

    A great guide to understanding how to say no and why. I like how you gave examples on what to say so it makes it easier for people who aren’t as comfortable with saying no. Thank you for sharing!

  19. Elaina says:

    I love your alternatives to just saying no, it’s the hardest thing for most of us but absolutely necessary for a balanced life.

  20. Barbara says:

    Really great advice…AND YES! No is a hard response! Really very good tips if you consider your approach!

  21. Marianne says:

    I love that you have provided so many ways of saying no… but in a polite way. I am trying very hard to teach myself that its ok to say no.

  22. Jessica says:

    I needed this, thank you. I’ve gotten better, but still have aways to go with this.

  23. Cindy Mailhot says:

    It is so important to know and uphold your personal boundaries.

  24. Alice says:

    I can tell you put a lot of thought in this post. This is great information.

  25. Cindy Moore says:

    Yes! I love all the ways you offer for saying no to someone and/or those asking for commitments. It truly is about being your authentic self and doing what aligns with YOU, no matter what anyone else thinks, says or does.

  26. Your answers are both perceptive and sensitive to others as well as yourself. I have to admit it took me many, MANY years of doing it wrong before getting it right. But like the old song says, “I gotta Be Me”. There is a great freedom in realizing that all those people who can be very demanding can also bail out on you when the “going gets tough”. Ultimately it reminds me of the Aesop’s fable of the Father, Son and the Donkey and it’s moral that you simply cannot please every one. So we discover what is important to ourselves and move forward. Ultimately, nobody truly values a “Yes” man. Thank you for your wise insights.
    The other, Laura-Lee.

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Laura Lee, 52, with invisible wounds and scars.  I've learned to embrace PTSD and depression because if I don't own them, they'll own me.  I don't want to simply survive, but to thrive.  I hope you'll join me on my journey.  It's sure to be a bumpy road.



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