I have a hard time saying no.

I say yes to things because I think I should.

I say yes because saying no gives me anxiety.

I say yes to avoid conflict or because everyone else is saying it.

Why is such a simple word so ridiculously intimidating?

Maybe because we’re afraid of how we’ll be perceived.

We don’t want to hurt other people’s feelings.

We think we are superheroes and we can do it all.

We’re too focused on pleasing others.

There are many reasons we say yes when we really would be better off saying no.

But right now, I find myself in a season of practicing this discreet two-letter word.

Even though it feels awkward at times and contrary to how I was raised, I am learning to just say it. I don’t think I’m alone either in needing to understand the power of saying no. I believe it is a skill many women need to hone.

Sometimes saying no to obligations, outings and even people can free up time and space for the things that truly matter so instead of filling up our days with dozens of extra tasks, we can make room for what is meaningful. Sometimes, saying no leads to more peace and growth and just a touch of extra sanity.

It took a tragedy to help me realize this. When my husband died, my life changed in a very profound way. His death has caused me to examine myself and my life more closely than I ever have before. Through the fog of grief I’ve been collecting lessons. I understand how fragile and temporary life is in a new way. When it comes down to it, the only thing we all have is today. We only have this moment. Our time is limited and precious, and if we’re being pulled in a million different directions we’re wasting that gift and are often left feeling empty and defeated. I believe we need to parse away the extra things and get down to the heart of what matters, for how can we truly know ourselves and create the life we want when we can’t distinguish between what is essential and what is just draining us of energy and passion? By saying no, we are freeing ourselves to be the very best version of who we were meant to be.

I think we need to really look hard at ourselves and figure out what we need to hold onto and what we can let go of. I’ve learned in a new way this year that nothing is guaranteed, not even tomorrow. I don’t want to reach the end of my life, whenever that might be, and see a long string of obligations I fulfilled that ultimately meant nothing. I want to say yes instead. Yes to spending quality time making memories with my daughter. Yes to strengthening relationships with valuable friends and family. Yes to allowing all the things I love to fill up my precious free time. Yes to accomplishing the tasks that bring me fulfillment and purpose and perhaps end up leaving the world a tiny bit better off. Yes to spending time alone to recharge and refresh. Yes to figuring out how to create a whole and beautiful future.

I hope as I stumble my way through this year that I learn the value of a no and I hope you will all join me.

Becca Sitzes

Becca Sitzes is the mother of a rambunctious 11-year-old tomboy and also shares her home with two rescue dogs, Biscuit and Charlie. A transplanted Canadian in the south, she has put down deep roots in her adopted state of North Carolina and loves to travel to new places. Addicted to words and caffeine, you will usually find her hiding away with a cup of coffee and a book.