Saying NO

Saying ‘NO’ goes against my natural inclinations.Upon alot of self reflection I realise that this stems from being a people pleaser. Its something I still struggle with but it’s a battle that I know I am definitely winning.

For most of my life,external validation was something that i really craved for. I think there are alot of factors that contributed to this but I will save you the long psycho analysis of my childhood and what led to being the girl who went around hoping people would like me. I just liked hearing ‘Oyinda is so nice’.

The fact that I was(past tense cos I am striving to do better) a people pleaser became apparent when I started realising that i would say ‘yes’ to things that I secretly resented just so I wouldn’t ‘offend’ people and also appear ‘nice’.

Some examples below;

Buying aso ebi(matching occasion wear for my non nigerian readers) in a fabric & colour I really did not like. Add to the fact that I already had something similar. I ended up never wearing it again and I was not even that close to the person I bought it from.

Saying yes to extra work load that I did not have the capacity to take on.I later felt really stressed and it got to a point where I dreaded even taking a day off. I was literally doing a job 2 people now do.

Accepting a package from someone to add to my luggage when going away. It meant I had to drop some of my own things that I actually needed on my trip. I was secretly fuming when I had to buy what I needed when I could have just said no.

Giving out a loan that I really could not afford.I just found it difficult to say ‘ no I am also struggling’. I never got the money back but for a long time I felt resentment because it was meant to be a loan and I really needed the money.

The impromptu outing I agreed to when i was really tired and all I really wanted to do was go home to relax. I hated every second of it but I had to pretend i was enjoying myself.

There are just too many instances for me to list out here and the people pleasing part of me still does not want to offend people in my life who might read this blog.

I also wrongly assumed that saying no especially in certain circumstances made me ‘unkind’. Now I know that form of ‘kindness’ is transactional as it was based on me getting something back in return.That something is approval or validation.

Now I know true kindness expects nothing back in return. It gives with little or no expectation. There was also some parts of me that thought ‘what will people think or say’ plus alot of other guilty feelings that come from growing up in a culture that places alot of value on how you are seen by others.

As I have evolved over the years though I have come to the realisation that saying no is a key part in learning the skill of setting priorities.

The quote below by Tim Harford also really brings this home;

“Every time we say yes to a request, we are also saying no to anything else we might accomplish with the time.”

The day to day realities of being a parent also made it clear to me that saying no is not such a bad thing after all.Saying yes to everything my children want will mean I send out very overweight,entitled,self absorbed,selfish,lazy adults into the world.

Learning to say no has been such a liberating experience for me.For me it’s also been a spiritual journey as its allowed me to hone in on on what is now a central part of my faith walk .

This key element is- Am I pleasing God?

I learned to flip the ‘what will people think/say’ to ‘ what does God think’. And sometimes what God thinks or wants might not necessarily what the people around you value.

Now I am not saying I still don’t care what people think about me of course I do .Anyone who says they don’t is lying as its part of what forms the basis of how we live in society and communities.

What’s different though is that it is no longer the deciding factor for whether or not I do something. The central point now tends to be ‘Does this indicate or contradict the faith/values that I profess?’.

I have learnt a lot of other lessons while acquiring this very important skill.However I am aiming to make my blog posts shorter so please watch out next week for the concluding part of this topic where I share the other lessons.

As always thank you so much for reading and looking forward to reading your comments & experiences in saying the word ‘NO’. Have a lovely week ahead people.

Much love


14 thoughts on “Saying NO

  1. I have learnt to say no but I must admit its still work in progress. I have this incredible opportunity that came my way however the date was clashing with other priorities, the fact was that I was already becoming physically ill just thinking about all I had to do… I spoke with a friend and she said push back and say No.. I can’t do that date, they want you but this is making you ill, anyways, I went back, we pushed back 1 week and now I feel much better, saying no is a truth in itself…


  2. Nice one. Life experiences have made me become shameless to what people will think or say about me. My first question is always: will the person I’m about to inconvenience myself for by saying YES value it? A lot of people don’t! I still have a few people though that I can go the extra mile for occasionally but the bottom line is I always put my happiness first before anyone else. No, it doesn’t make me inhuman or wicked.


  3. Oh Oyinda, this write up is another reminder for me to stay firm at saying No.. Everything you said is just how I was (am still learning to say No).. I would say to my hubby that people say am a nice person and his response would be.. It’s because your a people pleaser…It is so liberating sometimes to Just say NO and does make people have a healthy respect for one… God bless you abundantly again for always being so real with your write ups.. We look forward to part 2…


  4. This is so relatable.I was and sometimes still a culprit of Saying No. I was terrible at saying No to lending money especially,this caused lot of resentment and detered me from making progress when I really needed those funds.Saying Yes to people for many years of my life cost me a lot. I realised that a lot of people especially I said Yes to were unable to reciprocate that to me and that really hurts.When people tell me Tofunmi you used to be nice or this or that I just smile. Won mo boselo,I am wiser. I rather be a God pleaser than people pleaser. Thank you Ma For this insightful read. I pray for grace for everyone to act right accordingly in situations.


  5. I used to be a people pleaser and it was one of the contributing factors to my emotional eating.In the last 10 years, I have learnt to say more No, than Yes, this simple act as really improved my wellbeing.The moment I started getting intentional about living life with a purpose, my people pleasing attitude flew out of the window. It is a learned attitude and it is on going,you never get there in a day.


  6. I’ve learnt to say No from life experiences. I think a lot of us still confuse saying Yes as being “nice and polite“.
    While it’s an amazing thing to act and treat people nicely, going that extra mile (i.e saying Yes all the time) at your own detriment usually ends in regrets.


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