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Saying “No” Without Guilty Feelings

Between the stress of work, family and home, the amount of projects you are juggling can seem endless. Whether it’s joining the team on a new project at work, volunteering to coach a softball game or helping a neighbor with childcare, it can be overwhelming to be in ten places at once. Learning to say no without feeling guilty is essential to maintain your sense of sanity.

What Will Happen if You Say No?
Often people are afraid to say “no” because they are afraid of damaging relationships. In many cases, these fears are exaggerated. If you tell your neighbor you can’t help with her son’s birthday party, she will probably just ask someone else. Your relationship won’t be damaged beyond repair, and you won’t take on more than you can handle.

Explain Why You Can’t Help
Sometimes a short explanation is all you need alleviate yourself of the guilt of saying no. Tell your boss you can’t take on another project because you are still working on the current project. Explain to your sister you can’t have her over for the weekend because you have already made plans. Saying yes to projects that stretch your time or energy will only leave you feeling resentful. Give a simple explanation and let it go.

Offer an Alternative
In some cases, offering an alternative can help you avoid feeling guilty about saying no to a request. Simply tell your daughter’s school you can’t volunteer this month, but you would be glad to do it next month when your schedule frees up. If you can’t help your neighbor paint her living room, refer her to your nephew who painted your house last spring.

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