Learning to Say “No”

One of the things I’ve struggled with all my life is learning when to put my foot down and just say “no”.  I’ve always been a people-pleaser and I partly blame that on my personality but also on the way I was taught to behave at school.  “Smile more!  Don’t be grumpy!  Don’t put your hand up so often; you’re intimidating the boys!”  Hearing stuff like that your whole life really has an effect on you and I have to say one of the consequences was that I had no idea how to just say “no” and not constantly apologize for it.

When I started my blog I wanted to get involved in every book-related project I could.  I joined NetGalley and Edelweiss, opened up my requests to authors and said yes to almost every one of them, commented on so many blogs regularly, etc.  It took up a lot of time but it was generally enjoyable.  However, things took a turn for the worse when I realized that they were taking up too much of my time.  My blog was eating into the other things I liked to do, like read.  Suddenly, I didn’t have the time to read all of the books I was requesting and accepting because there were too many of them.  I was buried under a pile of commitments to other bloggers.  I became very, very stressed.

Then suddenly I said no.

I closed down my review requests, respectfully declined on some projects and only requested from NetGalley what I would read and review within a week.  It was really hard but for the first time in my life I was tired of pleasing people.  I just wanted to please myself for once.  Just saying no, the simple act of saying no to someone online was a turning point for me.  I began to say no to things I didn’t want to do in real life.  I realized I don’t have to please everyone; at the end of the day I’m the one that has to live with myself.  So while I continue to be pleasant to everyone and help out where I can, I’ve finally realized that my number one priority is me.  It’s my life so at the end of the day I come first.  Of course I still help out in the community with various fundraising and volunteering projects and I help out friends in need.  But I’ve learned to say no to some things so I have room for the more important things in life.

As a book blogger you’re probably a natural people-pleaser as well as most of us seem to be more introverted.  You don’t have to be!  You really can just say no sometimes, especially if you don’t have time for something.  Saying no isn’t a bad thing.  It can be absolutely liberating and saying no to a couple of things you didn’t really want to do leaves time for you to say yes to things you really want to do.

I know it’s hard, but just say no once in a while.  It really is liberating.


  1. charliegirlteachergirl

    I have always been a people-pleaser, too. I have always found it hard to say “no,” and I saw that come into play a lot in college with friendships. There were no boundaries because I just couldn’t say “no.” Fortunately for me, I did learn to put my foot down, but not until it was much, much too late and the friendships could not be salvaged. When I started blogging, I had the same problem all over again. I got overwhelmed and stressed and I just wanted to climb into a hole and hide…but the blog went on! I still go through “seasons” of this throughout each year, but I’ve stopped accepting review requests and that has made a world of difference. I’ve gotten much better at saying “no” in real life…except at my job. I want to keep it. 🙂

    • Carrie Slager

      Yes, well things are definitely different in the workplace. Even then I do have my limitations when it comes to fulfilling outrageous customer requests and fortunately my boss backs me up (i.e. “No, we can’t deliver 100+ pieces of lumber to you in the next 15 minutes”).

      Learning to say no in regards to friendships has been particularly difficult for me because of the physical isolation here and the fact that I really didn’t have much of a choice with my friends as I was growing up. But eventually I learned to put my foot down and tell some of my friends when they were being drama queens and that they were causing half of their problems. It was really hard but I’m much happier for it. Like you I went through the same ‘yes’ phase here on my blog but I’m determined not to repeat that again.

  2. cav12

    I can relate. I still find it difficult to say no, the exception is when I am teaching and students ask to do something unrelated to the lesson!!
    Well done, Carrie. 😀

    • Carrie Slager

      Haha, I always remember the best teachers as being the ones that would go off topic on occasion. There were so many awesome math classes when we just talked about philosophy and world issues in high school because our math teacher had a minor in Philosophy. 😀

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