Say ‘Yes’ to Saying ‘No’

When Elton John sang: ‘Sorry seems to be the hardest word’, I think he might have been underestimating the difficulty we seem to have sometimes in saying ‘no’. We often take on tasks that we don’t really want to, and it can leave us feeling overwhelmed and resentful.

So here are some coaching questions to help you explore what it is that motivates you when you say ‘yes’ to things, what it’s costing you, and where you might want to start saying ‘no’ instead.

a woman is at the bottom of a metal ladder, extending her hand to be helped up - how to say no to people - life coaching for conscious living

what is it that motivates you to say ‘yes’?

  • How do you feel at that moment when someone asks you to help? Or when you are volunteering for something? What emotions surface? Is it excitement? Happiness? Eagerness to help? Something else?

  • Which of your personal values are being satisfied when you say ‘yes’ to doing something? Kindness? Contribution? Something else?

  • What needs does it meet for you when you are saying ‘yes’? Significance? Connection with others? Certainty that the task will be done correctly? Something else?



  • When do you notice negative feelings arising about the task that you have committed to? Immediately after you’ve said ‘yes’? In the days running up to the commitment? Just before?

  • What are those emotions that arise? Anger? Resentment? Overwhelm? Something else?

  • Which of your personal values are being stepped on when you say ‘yes’ more than you want to? Wellbeing? Balance? Freedom? Something else?

  • What could you do to get your needs met in other ways, instead of saying ‘yes’ to commitments that you don’t really want?

a woman with long dark hair and glasses holds out her hand signifying STOP - how to say no to people - life coaching for conscious living

let’s get specific…

  • Where in your life do you want to start saying ‘no’ to things?

  • Who in your life takes more time and energy than you would like to give?

  • What tasks are you taking on that you don’t want to?

a mans arms break free of black handcuffs against a blue sky with fluffy white clouds - how to say no assertively - life coach - awakened living

moving into action

  • What is the one small step you could take this week to take back control of your time and energy?

  • Who or what will you say no to?

  • What are the ‘watch-outs’ for you this week? Which friends, family members or groups might make demands on your time that you don’t want to allow?

  • How will you choicefully respond to them?

  • What will remind you of this intention? Could you have a screensaver on your phone that reminds you to ‘just say no? Maybe wear a hairband on your wrist or draw a star on your hand to remind you of your intent.