The Joy of Saying No

I am a part of an incredible writing group that meets virtually on Saturday mornings. I love being in spaces with people who are smarter than me. I often leave our conversations feeling like I’ve grown in some ways. In this space, we write, we share our writing, and we offer each other feedback. During our time together, I inevitably learn new words, and I’m often reminded of words that I haven’t thought about in awhile and want to try out again. I also learn new moves that I tinker with in my writing and which writing moves don’t work for me.

It’s a valuable space, and I’m honored to be a part of it. So, when our facilitator asked the group if they wanted to meet over the summer, I was surprised that my instinct was to say NO.

I didn’t say anything at first. I listened to other people share. Everyone seemed to feel like the group should continue to meet over the summer. I wondered if I should just say, “YES.” I love this group, after all. Why was my gut telling me no?

Trust your gut, I thought.

I let the group know that I really enjoy our time together but needed a break over the summer.

Shew. What a relief. That felt right. I then asked to be a part of the group again in the fall.

I don’t know why I need a break from something I enjoy so much. I just do. Does it matter why I need a break? I don’t know that it does. I don’t think I need to be able to justify my need for a break. I just need to know and trust that I need it.

The hard truth is that some of what is stressing us out we’ve chosen for ourselves.

Sometimes, choosing ourselves looks like saying no to good opportunities. Sometimes, what is good for us isn’t great for us when the world feels overwhelming.


The key is for us to identify how we are doing, what we need, and what we need less of, without judging why. Sometimes, it just is. And that is OK.

How might you make more space for yourself this week?

What is something that is good for you but not great for you right now, and how might you give yourself a bit more space?

What is something your gut is telling you to say no to lately, and how can you hold yourself accountable for your no?

Sometimes, saying no, even to the really good stuff, can help us make more space for our joy.

And making space for joy is a very worthwhile endeavor.

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