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Saying NO!

October '17

The other day I received a gift that had me snorting with laughter: one of those NO buttons. What tickled me were the eight distinctive voices that erupted as I kept pushing the button. My favorite was an emphatic, “No! No! No!” with each NO sounding a different note.

My post laughter reaction was a bemused expression that reflected how difficult saying NO can be for many women, including myself. At midlife, you often begin to shift your focus from everyone else’s needs onto your own as you seek a more meaningful life. This shift requires development of your NO muscle.

Saying NO is such an important skill for a successful midlife reinvention that I devote extensive time to it in my nine-week journaling eCourse, Reinvent Your Life ~ Write Now. Here’s a segment, which introduces the first step for learning to say NO (from Week 3 of the course).


What Do You Want to Say NO to in Your Life?

         If you cannot answer quickly, not to worry, there are clues for when to say NO. You just have to look for them. For example, Kim had an acquaintance, who drained her energy every time they met, but Kim still continued to see her. In fact the last time she spent the morning with this person; she came home with a smashing headache and had to go to bed. Now there’s a hint. And remember Sarah, who rarely attended to her own needs? She felt her resentment mount whenever she drove her daughter and four other neighborhood kids to pre-school every day — simply because she was the only stay-at-home Mom. Feeling drained, or resentful are two excellent hints of when you’d like to say NO. Sarah often did things because she thought she should. Like when she volunteered to make brownies for her son’s class bake sale. There she was, waiting outside her son’s school texting on her iPhone, when another mother distracted her with her request for a bake sale item.“Sure! I’ll do brownies,” she replied, even though she knew she couldn’t bear to squeeze one more task into an already overloaded schedule. The following Clues for When to Say NO list, (based on the work of a fellow life coach and author, Michele Wahlder) has proved its worth over a decade of working with coaching clients.

Clues for When to Say NO!

Physical ~ Your body gives you messages:
Your stomach knots up.
Your throat feels dry.
You hold your breath.
You avoid eye contact.

Mental ~ You hear a little voice in your head saying:
“She’s a friend (relative), so I have to…”
“I don’t want to do this but I should.”
“What will they think of me if I don’t…?”
“I should, they did (blah blah) for me.”

Emotional ~ You feel:
Overwhelmed and anxious
Down and depressed
Irritated, even angry

All of the Above ~ When you feel the energy draining right out of you!

         Bring your awareness to the physical, mental and emotional reactions that signal when you want to say NO. If you discover any additional clues, be sure to include them on your own clue inventory below.

My Clues Are…








What clues did you find? Were there some not on the list? Love to hear about your experience.

Happy Halloween!


P.S. if you would like to continue following the steps for saying NO, here’s a link to my nine-week journaling eCourse. http://bonnieleonard.com/nine-week-journaling-program-reinvent-your-life-write-now/




  1. Astrea Hupfel said on October 31, 2017:

    Those clues are right on, Bonnie. Maybe I should get off that committee!
    Miss you, Stree

  2. Bonnie said on November 1, 2017:

    Hi Stree! Thanks for this perfect example of when you might want to say NO and also find it a challenge to do. Miss you too, Bonnie

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