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Ada Obiako: The Art of Saying “No”



I’m guessing your life is full of people who constantly ask you for some “thing” (money, time, energy, sex, etc).

It’s hard to say no when you’re a people pleaser. It’s hard to say no when you feel a sense of expectation or obligation. It’s hard to say no when you desperately desire to be liked, loved, or validated by another human being.

Once upon a time, I found saying “no” to be a much-dreaded task; now, I find it utterly liberating.

To be clear, I don’t expect any of us to say “no” to everything – that would be extremely selfish. To cultivate a spirit of gratitude and generosity, we must also be willing to “do unto others as we want done unto us”, which means saying yes to requests and opportunities to serve (volunteering time and energy to varying causes, helping others with problem-solving needs, etc) when possible. The key is learning how to balance your yes or no responses appropriately.

It’s easier to know when to say yes — a health emergency in the family and money needs to be pooled together for medical bills; a friend applying for new job postings in need of people to list as references on his/her CV; a supervisor asking you to complete a work task clearly outlined in your job description as part of your responsibilities. On the other hand, it can prove much more difficult to know when it is “right” to say no.

With that being said, instinct is a wonderful thing.

I have learned to rely on it much more now than I ever did in the past. When someone asks something of me, I usually take a moment to check within myself to determine if my initial reaction is an easy yes and I feel at peace. If I don’t and instead feel conflicted or unhappy for a prolonged period about it, then 9 out of 10 times it means I should respond with a “no”. There have been several occasions when I should have said no to a request but didn’t. One example is when my gal pals and I were taking a road trip from New Orleans to Houston in my car a few years back and they asked me to drive past the speed limit because I was “snailing” it on the road; although I wasn’t in support I obliged, subsequently got pulled over by the cops, and fined an exorbitant amount for speeding.

In many instances, a “no” is required for ones physical, emotional, and mental health / wellbeing.

The truth is you cannot be everything to everybody; you’re only one person. This truth will not always sit well with folks and that is A-OK. There will never be a time when you can please all people; the more you try, the more frustrated and resentful you’re likely to become. Now I can’t tell you when or when not to respond with a yes or no in your life; however, I can tell you that from personal experience, the sooner you start exercising your “no” muscle, the more courageous and happier you’ll find yourself to be, with your sanity intact…ideally 🙂

Photo Credit: Birgit Reitz Hofmann |

Adaeze Diana is a freelance writer, copy-editor, speaker, and vision coach who helps young Christian women feeling depressed/hopeless discover who they are and why they exist so that they can learn how to enjoy more fulfilling and fruitful lives. She blogs about the spiritual lessons she's learned at You can follow Adaeze on Twitter and Google+.


  1. 'Diddie

    February 13, 2017 at 11:24 am

    Thanks … Im guilty of this. I rarely no how to say ” No” for the fear of not m,aking somebody feel ba at my own expense. I should learn to start saying No and stick to my guns.

  2. meelikey

    February 13, 2017 at 2:20 pm

    “NO” I can say from experience is liberating, the moment i summoned courage to say NO and dont feel the need to explain gave me the feeling of “am in charge”.

  3. Tosin

    February 14, 2017 at 8:26 am

    Say Yes 😀

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