Saying No is Not a Sign of Weakness – It’s a Sign of Wisdom

One of the questions I get asked a lot is how to make changes when you feel like you are burning out.

There are many things that can be done to prevent burnout. But when someone is teetering on the edge or already sliding down that slippery slope, giving them a laundry list of things is to is not helpful. That can make them feel even more overwhelmed. They need one significant actionable thing that will make a difference for them, and it needs to be something they will actually do.

I hear from people all the time that their lives these days are busier and more stressful than ever. They take on more than we can handle and often don’t take the time to replenish their energy. The one thing that helps the most, is to help that person recognize that saying no is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of wisdom. It is also an act of responsibility and of love. But we have to learn to say no to the right things, and in the right way.

Why We Need to Say No Sometimes

The real problem is that we have not accurately counted the cost of what we are doing and prioritized our investment of time and energy in line with our values and resources. We have said yes to too much. Every time we say yes to one thing, even if it’s a passive yes, we are saying no to something else, even if we haven’t actually said no.

When we say yes to something that is not in line with our priorities and your values, we are foregoing or putting off things that really are important to us, even if just in that moment. We either have to expend more energy trying to get everything done, at the cost of doing things well, or we are forced to let some things slip.

We only have so many hours and so much energy. No matter what it is that we are investing our time and energy into, if we continually put our wellbeing on the back burner, we eventually start to feel drained. We end up feeling exhausted all the time. We have a harder time processing information and making decisions. We feel more emotional and irritable than we used to. Worst of all, we feel guilty and even resentful because we aren’t enjoying life, and that just adds to the stress we are feeling. Chronic stress sets in and eats away at our mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health.

Make no mistake, this decline in our health affects every area of our lives, from our relationships to our daily work to our finances. These areas of our lives are all interrelated. As those areas suffer, we can feel trapped and like things are slipping out of control and the stress just gets worse.