Adulting 101: Learning How to Say No

Adulting 101: Learning How to Say No | Delight & Be Blog

Learning how to say no to situations is not easy, especially when you're the girl who always wants to please everyone.

“I really need to work on learning how to say no. I hate disappointing people or myself, but I always get stuck in situations where I wind up being overwhelmed! ” -Anony[miss]



The year began with a kiss and a promise.  The kiss was given, and the promise was made: we wouldn't have New Year’s Resolutions.  Instead, we'd make effective life decisions.  We could start the New Year starving ourselves from dessert and resenting the gym, or we could take smaller portions and enjoy sweet treats in healthy moderation. We could decide to become better people: spend more time in the Word and less time trying to please the people around us.  

We could stop saying "yes" to everything and allow "no" to have equality in our vocabulary again.

When did "no" become such a bad word anyway?

Decisions were made and boundaries were set.  We both agreed that somewhere along the way we had come to believe false truths.  Our self worth had somehow become tangled up into the opinions of others and we noticed the choking hold it had on us.  We wanted to live life liberated, and the only way to set ourselves free from perpetual people pleasing, was to stop pleasing and start pruning.

So, we cut back.  We cut back a lot.  

The year began faster than we had anticipated. I was thrown right into the rollercoaster of the real world, learning rather quickly that two full-time jobs were a full-time load.

The pruning started with the realization that I couldn’t say yes to everything.  I felt guilty and obligated to do, do, do.  But doing more wasn’t doing anything but leaving me empty.  The only way to be fulfilled was to cut back and start saying no.

It began with friendships.  Honesty set in as I explained to those closest to me that I needed time to adjust in this new season.  One of my friends faithfully embraced me and whispered, “Just remember, Anna, this is the year of ‘hell yes.’  If it’s not a ‘hell yes,’ then it’s a ‘hell no.’”

I blushed a little and hugged her tighter.  Sometimes we need to be reminded that we weren’t created to DO everything--that’s God’s job.  Our job is to trust Him. 

“Heck yes” suddenly became my anthem.

Scripture literally says in Proverbs 4:23: “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”  A lot of us know that verse, but do we apply it to our understanding?  “Your heart” translates into the Hebrew word “leb” which means “inner mind,” “will,” “heart,” “understanding.” “seat of appetites,” “seat of emotions and passions.”  

We must guard the very core of our thought process, intentions, motives, and decision making, for FROM THEM comes the direction our lives will go.

And, truly, there are only two directions for our lives: toward death, or toward life.

Simplifying that truth made it so much easier for me to come to start saying “no” to things.  

Instead of forcing myself into the favored opinions of people, or striving to do more in hopes of becoming more, I started only saying yes to the things I knew I was supposed to do.  How did I discern what I had to do against what I didn’t?


And you can never have too much of that.

Next time you’re making decisions, here are a few practical tips that will help you decide if it’s a “heck yes” or a “heck no:”

1. Why are you doing what you're doing?  What is your motivation?

If it’s to please people, have others think better of you, or make yourself feel better, those reasons are not necessarily of God.  If you are believer in Jesus Christ, your job is to OBEY Him and GLORIFY Him.  Is that why you’re doing what you’re doing?  Or is there another reason?


2. Will this decision affect eternity?  Or does it satisfy an earthly desire?

This might be a fine line, but regardless, refining your decision-making process through the filter of eternity makes making decisions so much easier.  If it’s not eternal, then it doesn’t matter!  This is extremely helpful for me when it comes to discipline. Whether in healthy eating, or the way I spend my money, God has eternity in His hands, seek to glorify Him!


3. Read the following scriptures and use them as an anchor when you’re making decisions!

Scripture is a refreshing spring of Truth that washes over us and empowers the Spirit within us.  Decision-making shouldslugways be sifted through the ways of the WORD—God’s Word!

  • If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and He will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. (James 1:5)
  • The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight for living. (Psalm 19:8)
  • Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes. (Psalm 37:7)
  • Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take. (Psalm 3:5-6)



Adulting 101: Learning How to Say No | Delight & Be Blog

Anna Filly is a Wedding & Portrait photographer in the sweet, deep South.  She loves hosting dinner parties, sparkling water, & telling love stories through the art of photography.  When she's not traveling with her camera, or trying a new recipe, Anna enjoys empowering young women & captivating their hearts through the promises & truth found in the Gospel story of Jesus Christ. Follow her on Instagram or view her website

Photo: Lyndsey A. Photography