It’s really easy to be a Yes Babe. And I don’t mean in the potentially fun way Jim Carrey did it in that movie, where you’re saying yes to new opportunities outside your comfort zone. I’m talking about the people-pleasing way. The one where your yes feels obligatory, and out of your control. Where it slides out of your mouth before you’ve even given yourself the chance to evaluate how you feel about what you were just asked to do.

25 Ways To Say No | Uncustomary

So many of us do it. We say yes to people in general, or maybe one person in particular, because we don’t want to disappoint them. We don’t want to seem selfish or greedy. We want to be perceived as kind because we know deep down we’re good people. Maybe in that moment we think we can actually follow through with that task, but later on it turns out we just can’t. Or maybe we’re just not giving ourselves the forethought about how we’ll be affected by the situation. We’re still not calculating our spoons and self-care into the situation enough when we’re asked to complete a task or do a favor for someone else. It has to stop!

Saying no is difficult. Especially at first. It’s wrapped up in guilt that we should be doing better. I actually just made an EFT Tapping video for my Uncustomary Babe Members on releasing guilt that is really good if you struggle with this. Sign up now for instant access!

25 Ways To Say No | Uncustomary

Saying no isn’t impossible, though. And like anything, it gets easier with practice. Sometimes we just need to figure out a different way to get started. So what if instead of saying “no”, we had some different options of ways to convey our message that we aren’t able to do the thing being asked of us in that moment without that word we’ve wrapped so much stigma around? It’s a foot in the door technique, and it can be very helpful to move up the ladder to eventually being able to firmly and simply reply with a “No” when someone asks you to do something you don’t want to do. Because at the end of the day, it’s really empowering and relieving to say no to shit you don’t want to do. So here are 25 ways to say no, without necessarily saying it.

25 Ways To Say No

1. Thank you so much for trusting me with that, but it’s not going to work for me today.
2. Oh man, I would have loved to, but I can’t!
3. Actually, I think someone else would be better to help you with this particular situation.
4. I’d be happy to help you with this at another time.
5. I wish there were two of me so I could say yes to everything, but unfortunately there aren’t.
6. I’m definitely interested in that, but this isn’t the right time for me. Can you please keep me in mind for the future?
7. I can’t do that for you, but instead I am able to do this (less taxing task/offer).
8. I really appreciate you thinking of me first, but my calendar is already full then.
9. I actually have had a really rough day and need some time for myself, I hope you understand.
10. I’m actually working on trying to find more balance in my life right now and I don’t think I can realistically take that on. Please check back in with me if you have more opportunities like this in the future.
11. It sounds lovely, but I don’t want to commit when I’m not positive I’ll be able to make it and I want to be able to keep my promises to you.
12. Unfortunately I have to be a no for now.
13. It’s really hard for me to say no to people, especially people I care about, but I’m trying to practice self-care and I need this time for me. I hope you respect my decision.
14. I really want to keep connected to you, could we please schedule something in the future?
15. I love that you’re so passionate about that, but it’s just not for me. Please go have fun!
16. I’m actually not taking on anything new right now, but I really appreciate the offer.
17. No, but let me tell you what I can do and where you might be able to find some resources to help you with this problem.
18. None of these options work for me unfortunately, but let’s keep trying!
19. I’m so honored, but I just can’t.
20. I actually have to pass on this one. Have a great time!
21. I’m working on a lot of personal stuff right now, and I need to figure some things out before I make any more commitments.
22. Thank you, but it’s not going to work out this time.
23. I appreciate that offer, but I made a rule with myself that I’m not ___ while I’m ____.
24. I wish I could make that work, but unfortunately it’s a no go.
25. Sadly, I have too much on my plate to take that on right now as well.

Be firm with people. Don’t back down. Don’t feel like these are apologies, just explanations and longer sentences than the word “no” that people might actually be more likely to respond to with respect. You deserve to create boundaries. You deserve alone time. You are allowed to change your mind, cancel plans, and reassess how much energy you have on an in-the-moment basis.

Photo: Maura Housley