The Power of No (and a Little Bit of Boho)

I spent the first 30 to 35 years of my life being a “yes” girl. Craving to be popular, to be liked, to being the friend my friends could always rely on. Always. To the point that I exhausted myself. Overwhelmed myself. Literally made myself crazy.

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I had only myself to blame. You can’t really blame others for taking advantage of the “yes” girl. Probably they didn’t even realize that I was saying “yes” to everyone who asked me for something. And I believe it is just human nature to keep asking the person who always says “yes.” It is like a safety zone from rejection.

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For the sake of my own sanity, I needed to start saying “no” every once in a while. For a “yes” girl, this seems like a near impossible task. Saying “no” might very well be the end of the world as I knew it. What if my friends thought I was suddenly unreliable? What if they stopped liking me? What if I became known as the selfish friend?

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But what if I said “yes” so much that I couldn’t handle all the obligations that I just agreed to? I would be unreliable anyway, right? And just exactly what would happen if I started saying “no”? “No” seems to be the most difficult word for a “yes” girl to say.

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But I can tell you exactly what happened when I learned how to say “no”. I was much more relaxed! And I was calmer. And I could pay closer attention to the things that I needed to do. And do them better. And no one hated me. Well, at least no one told they hated me!

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There is strength in the word “no”. There is power. There is control. Controlling your own life. Establishing your own boundaries. Prioritizing your own needs and obligations. Learning how to say “no” to others is quite empowering.

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It first began with reasons and apologies. Reasons like “No, I have taken on too much already and I just can’t help you out this time.” Or, “I have already committed to something else at that time.” These responses were always accompanied by an apology. Apologizing because I felt as if I were letting people down. As if I were slacking on my obligations. As if I were a failure if I couldn’t do it all.

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As I grew more confident in the power of saying “no”, I was able to evolve to the point of saying “no” without any excuses other than “I just don’t feel like it.” And holy crow, the feeling of empowerment when you can look a person in the eyes with no excuses at all and say, “No. Because I don’t want to.”

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I like to believe that people respect me for this rather than view me as unreliable or unhelpful. But then my friends know that if they are really in a bind, an emergency with no other alternative but to seek my assistance, I would never say “no”. But when the request is frivolous or simply for the sake of their convenience (at the expense of my convenience), I really have no problem saying, “No. I just don’t want to!” And I don’t always say “no”. I still often say “yes”…when I feel like it. But when I am really not up to the task, “no” will be my response for no other reason than that…I am not feeling up to the task.

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My thought is this…life is too short to bind up all of your time doing things that you really don’t want to do. Yes, we all have obligations that we must tend to in order for life to happen. I’m not talking about neglecting our responsibilities. But it is all those little extra things that we do “to be nice” that add up and can take over our lives.

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So if you are a “yes” person, it is time to reclaim your life by saying “no” once in a while! It is very liberating and empowering! There is no need to be mean or rude about it either. If you are very overwhelmed by too many “yeses” and just need a little break, try saying “no”. Without excuse. Without reason. Without apology. Just “no”. The easiest and the hardest word for us to say.

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Outfit details:
Shirt/Dress: Thrifted from my local Salvation Army Family Store.
Sweater Vest: I have had this sweater for about a decade and I don’t remember where I bought it.
Jeans: Old Navy Button-Fly Boyfriend Jeans (Old and no longer available).
Sandals: Robyn Flat Slides by American Eagle for Payless.
Bracelets: Kohl’s (No longer available).
Necklace and Earrings: Cato Fashions (No longer available).
Beer: Wild Blue Lager (It is so good. So good.)

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Are you a “yes” person or someone who can say “no”? I would love to hear your thoughts on the power of “no”!

Keeping it on the edge,


Linking up with These Fabulous Link Ups Where I Link Up


I am a 40 something Army wife and stay-at-home mother of 2 boys and 2 cats named Dave and Frankie. I have a passion for helping other women feel fabulous in the midst of this crazy, beautiful life.

82 Responses

  1. Absolutely LOVE this post and I so needed to read it! But wait, is this why you didn’t want to come camping? Lol I love the pics, I am a little jealous of the photographer!!!!!

    • Thanks, Aim! The husband is getting better at taking pictures. And maybe I am getting better having my picture taken! We just weren’t up for outdoorsy stuff this weekend. I think we needed a quiet weekend at home! So that’s kind of an excuse, but not an apology! And really…we just didn’t feel like it. HA! Miss your face!


  2. Yes! When I was a stay at home mom I felt like I had to pick up all the slack of the working moms at my kids school, activities, family. My husband just didn’t get why I volunteered and did things without getting paid. Most organizations run on volunteers and I think my kids school couldn’t run without volunteers. That is a really good way to lose yourself and your needs in serving others. And then to feel like you have to apologize. Ugh! I’ve been saying “no” for a bit now but I can see that that can become a habit too. We women are so complicated! Your outfit looks great btw!

    • We really are a complicated species, for sure, Julia! With my oldest starting kindergarten in a week, I am bracing myself for all the requests that are going to be coming at me! But I need to maintain a healthy balance for my own sanity! So that will be my priority. Thanks so much for stopping by.


  3. The timing of this couldn’t be any better. I am this person and I am working through how to do what I really want and be a good person and friend.

    • Thank you so much for reading, Melissa! It took me a really long time to get here, but I have learned that I can’t be my best at anything…at being a parent, a wife, a friend, a sister…unless I am taking care of myself first. And that means tending to my needs and my wants, finding what brings me joy outside of all the roles that I am expected to play and the obligations that I have to satisfy. I think it is a life long process, but realizing that being selfish is sometimes an act of kindness to yourself and ultimately to others is one step in the right direction! I hope you are able to find to a way to reconcile all of these different aspects of your life! I wish you all the joy in the world. Because you are one of the purest souls I have ever met. It is never to late to go and grab your dreams, my friend!


  4. Love this and live the Boho spirit. And ironically I have a hand creme called Boho Soul… Lol

  5. It’s very important to know how to say “no” sometimes! 🙂

  6. I, too, was a “yes” person for many, many years. It took me a long time to learn to say “no.” It’s so important and changes the quality of your life…

    Cute outfit!

  7. Love this post, Shelbee! I have found that no or “no, thanks” is a fully complete sentence. It actually worked very well, and I have stopped feeling guilty. Like you, I will always say yes in a true emergency. xox


  8. I love knitted clothes. Your knitted vest is a great choise, especially when supported with your well-chosen bijou

  9. I can totally relate Shelby-
    I’ve learned to say NO without giving an explanation. Period.

    • I like what Patti said, Lorena…”No, thanks” IS a complete sentence! And good for you for learning how to draw your limits and stick to them! It feels great, right?!

      Thanks so much for reading. Have a fabulous week!


  10. I can totally say no and yes when I want to! It did take a bad relationship and some counseling to understand it’s okay to say no and learn I can’t do everything!

    • Bad relationships and counseling are the best foundations for true growth and learning! I have had so many of both that I should be a life genius by now! Ha. Thanks so much for stopping by, Ruth. Have a fabulous week!


  11. I know what you mean! I used to do this, espcially with my teaching job! It is freeing when you are able to say no to things, doesnt mean you are unreliable. But it is less stressful and overwhelming. Love this rich green vest on you and the super cute lace sandals. Now, about that beer…
    See you tomorrow
    jess xx

    • The beer is so, so good, Jess! But dangerous because it tastes like blueberry juice! And it goes down so easily. But in tur boho fashion, I threw caution to the wind and had a beer (or three)! I can say no to many things, but usually not to a Wild Blue beer!

      Thanks so much for stopping by! Have a fabulous week.


  12. It is hard to change into the “no’s”—I’m right there with you. But life is short, so we should enjoy it, and say yes when we really want to and no just as much!
    As for the beer—i need to see some ID to prove you’re old enough!!

    • I agree with all of this, Jodie! Well, except the ID part…hahaha…Some days I feel like a child. Other days I feel like I have been around for a million years! Thanks for stopping by!


  13. Hi Shelbee, love this look. It is so me 🙂 I am a yes person.. Eek I am trying to say no more especially on my blog!!Life is to short to do things you don’t want to do..

    Thanks for sharing at Creative Mondays

  14. You are so adorable!! I love those sandals 🙂

    Enclothed Cognition

  15. Love that sweater vest, and wish it was a recent find, because I need it in my life!! The color, the hoodie…all so good. I’ll be back for your link up later this week for sure! Have a great week!


    • Thanks, Shauna! This sweater vest seriously hung in my closet for so many years and I never had any luck styling it. But I couldn’t part with it either. Then finally, I figured out ways to style it and I do wear it quite it often now! I wish it was a more recent purchase for your sake as well…because it really is fabulous! Now I am going to searching for a similar item for your benefit!

      Thanks so much for reading!


  16. You look Gorgeous!! And this post was such a wonderful read, thank you!!

    Adi xx

  17. You look great in this clothing, the sweater vest could be one of my most beloved oieces…
    It’s a mysterious thing for me with the “No”. I don’t say yes, because the others love me, I’m not dependent on others and their opinion, apparently. But I am an autistic woman who does not understand the rules and appropriateness of life. Also I say as a precaution “Yes” in order not to do anything wrong. So I was brought up, I have to somehow survive on this strange planet for me. I can not assess themselves the consequences of my actions. Must operate in an incomprehensible system. Although I am a part outside, only for myself, actually.
    I wish I could say more “no”!

    Thanks für your visit and nice comments. I’m in a blog break now (I must care for my 89 years old mother), but when I’m back and have time to make outfit-photos, will link up my post here.
    Enjouy your day 🙂

  18. Nice post 😉
    Mónica Sors

  19. Very comfy and stylish look!

  20. From one “yes” girl to another – you go! It is so liberating to say no!

  21. I was the exact same way! I’ve gotten better, but sometimes my constant need to say yes and overcommit and overstretch myself and please everyone comes out. = )

  22. GIRLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL I am even a yes girl regarding my won wedding. This experience has really set me up to just EFF IT for once NO! It get’s me so frustrated.

    Life is just Rosie

    • Oh no, Rosie! If you need to scream a big giant loud “EFFING NO” then I think you should just do it! It is so liberating! And empowering. Take control, girl, take control! You got this! And remember even screaming in frustration, you’re still beautiful!


  23. I love this post!!!! Such a great message to share. We often say “yes” too much!! Stopping by from the Trend Spin Link-Up!


  24. I like how you layered! great look!

  25. Amen, sister! You have to be able to say no- totally agree! Love this hooded number, too. 🙂

    Le Stylo Rouge

  26. I agree, it’s so important to learn to say no, even if it’s hard at first! And you look great in this outfit!

    xo, Esther

    • Thank you, Esther! It really is an important skill to learn…setting your own boundaries and demanding respect for those boundaries! Saying no is the first step in that direction for me! Thanks so much for reading. Have a fabulous day!


  27. I was there too. Always “yes” girl. I took me 20 years to learn how to say no. Too long? Maybe…. But I’m happy that is different now. It is such a relief to tell what you really think.

    Thank you for linking up to My Red Carpet.

    Anna xoxo

    • Anna Shirley, isn’t it so liberating to finally take that kind of control of things?! I don’t think it matters how long it takes to get there, at least you got there! Thanks for stopping by. Have a fabulous day!


  28. I seriously love this! Live for yourself and not to please others- life is way too short to not be happy!

    xo, Christina

  29. I love the Boho. I am happy you have learned to say no. 🙂

  30. That’s the toughest, finding the balance between being ‘a good girl’ and setting boundaries. I don’t think there’s a woman anywhere who hasn’t struggled with this issue, one way or another. Hopefully the next generation of women will find it easier to say ‘no’ when they feel like it.

    • I agree, Tiina! I cannot be a pushover! And I am too old and set in my ways now to ever compromise my values, my time, or my needs! I do hope the younger generation of women is more empowered. Thanks so much for reading and for the very thoughtful comment!


  31. Thanks for linking up to Top of the World Style.

  32. Love, love, love this. I’m part of business mastermind group with 3 other women, and we have been talking so much about saying, “No,” and setting boundaries over the last few weeks. Do you think this is harder for women than men?

    • Thank you, Amber! You are the second person to comment about this being a predominantly female issue. And I guess I never really thought about it. But now, thinking about it, yeah…maybe. I don’t think my husband has a problem just saying no. Although he always uses his job as an excuse for everything (he is in the military so it is always a valid excuse). So I guess I don’t really know how he would be. Maybe it is an inherently female trait to be always accommodating and selfless. But hopefully we are reaching a stage in this generation where the genders are becoming equalized and it is okay for women to choose when and how much they will take on. We all need a break sometimes! I do think, though, that I need to think this through a little more (as evidenced by my rambling response!) Thanks so much for reading and good luck in your boundary-setting! Have a wonderful weekend.


  33. Good word! I read Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend a few years ago and went through a similar process. Freedom!

  34. Being content with saying ‘No’ and really seeking the Lord’s will has been such a good lesson this year; I’m still learning it.

  35. Oh wow how I love this post! I will share it with my Mrs., my mother-inlaw, and myself…Yes, I yes too often too and I know that I can mark off some boundaries and follow suit! Thank you #FridayFrivolity

  36. I’ve been a “yes” gal most of my life, too, but luckily I’ve started saying “no” more and more over the years – I did it again just yesterday, in fact! Thanks for joining us at #FridayFrivolity!

  37. I LOVE this outfit, and I LOVE your thoughts on the power of no. Bummin’ you don’t remember where you got the sweater vest, haha, because I’m kind of in love with it. You look great!

  38. ‘Yes’ and ‘No’, probably the two more complicated and interesting words. Love the post and love the outfit – just went thrifting today (everything was 50% off). Love it LL.
    Dropped over from #FridayFrivolity and happy I said ‘Yes’ to your link. 😉
    Hope this weekend treats you kindly. 🙂

    • Donna, thank you so much for the lovely comment! I learned to only go thrifting on the 50% off days! Otherwise, I think it is sometimes overpriced for a thrift shop especially when you can find items on clearance for a few dollars at places like Target, Old Navy, and Kohl’s. And I am glad you said “Yes” to my link, too! Have a fabulous weekend.


  39. I favor the depth.

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