Say No

I have a very vivid memory of sitting on a rug surrounded by classmates as my first grade teacher read this book about a man with countless caps on his head and I remember thinking, “Why is he wearing so many hats?” I was almost seven then. Fast forward eighteen years and I found myself asking that same question. Why am I wearing so many hats?

My life has become a balancing act, balancing all these different hats; the hat of wife, the hat of mother, the hat of writer, the hat of employee, the hat of ministry leader, the hat of sister, the hat of friend. I have become the character in that book. We all have. We all wear hats of different sizes, different shapes, different colors and as we walk through life we take on new hats, more hats.

Can I share a real, raw moment with you? Earlier this year all my hats fell. They seemed to all slip off of my head simultaneously. Every. Single. One. It was then that I asked myself, Why am I wearing so many hats?

Each title we take on comes with their own set of tasks. Every set of tasks contributes to a long list. A long list of things we need to do. Need. The word need by its very definition means something that is essential. But are all the hats we wear truly necessary? Are we wearing too many hats? I can’t answer that question for you but I can answer for myself and the answer is yes. Yes, I was wearing way too many hats. Yes, I took on too many titles. Yes, I was overwhelmed with all the tasks. And so they fell.

Can I share another real, raw moment with you? I’m happy that they fell. It wasn’t until I saw my hats scattered all around that I was able to see just which ones were truly essential. It wasn’t until I started picking them up that I was able to discern which ones I should say no to.

“It’s only by saying no that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.” – Steve Jobs

So say no. Not to everything. But to the things that you know aren’t necessary. This part is critical, don’t feel bad about it. You’re not being selfish or rude by saying no. That’s a misconception. Saying no means that you’re acknowledging that you can’t do everything. Saying no means that you’re prioritizing. Taking on too much causes us to stagger. Like the man with all the caps on his head, they will all eventually fall. But taking on less allows us to glide and as we move, we can truly enjoy the things that are important. 

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18 thoughts on “Say No

  1. Even the good hats and the God hats can get heavy! It’s SO important to learn we don’t have to do it all!!! Blessings!

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  2. Saying no is something that I really struggle with. I always feel like I’m letting the other person down if I don’t agree to help them. Do you know what I mean?

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    • Yes I completely understand what you mean. I’ve struggling with the same thing since before I can remember, it actually lead to major anxiety attacks. It took time and strenuous situations for me to stop taking on and saying yes to everything

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  3. You reminded me of a time when things were overwhelming for me. I was reading the exact story you are referencing and burst into tears when the grown up meaning hit me like a ton of bricks. I learned at that time to say no, or say too much or say I need … it changed me for good!

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  4. i think it is so important to learn to say no, it is hard sometimes but is actually better in the long term picture. it helps a lot in the future.

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  5. One way or another we have to learn how to say no to people. We can only handle as much and we shouldn’t pressure ourselves to do more. I think this is a good reminder for all of us!

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  6. Once I started to learn to say no more often, I really was able to focus on more important things. Now, I will still help friends and family members when I can, but I just can’t say yes to EVERYTHING all the time anymore. It is actually a nice feeling to drop some of those hats.

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  7. I want to share a quote from just last week that I love:
    It’s not about time, it’s about choices. How are you spending your choices – Beverly Adams
    Say no to anything that doesn’t fill you with joy! Life is too short

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  8. Gaining the wisdom to say “no” at the right times has been such a game-changer in my life, as well. Once you let go of the idea that you are personally responsible for everything, life is so much simpler. A weight is truly lifted.

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  9. It’s our life and we get to decide how many hats we put on. It’s not easy to do a balancing act when you have too many on your head. It’s important that we learn to say no, of course I had to learn that one the hard way as well.

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  10. Saying no is hard but once you get comfortable doing it, it’s also quite liberating. I had a similar life situation a few years ago where everything crashed around me. I felt like everything that defined me was no longer and I didn’t know what to do with myself. I climbed back up stronger than ever and rebuilt my circle with people and responsibilities I wanted there. Saying no is good but it’s not even possible until you truly see it that way for yourself.

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