Three Mindsets That Keep Us From Saying No

Did you know that your biggest asset isn't time, it's energy? Dr. Charryse Johnson explains how important it is to practice saying one word in order to reclaim your energy. She also discusses the mindsets that stand in the way. Never fear! Dr. Johnson gives two action steps you can start now if saying no is difficult for you.

By Dr. Charryse Johnson LCMHC, NCC


Over the years, I’ve spent a countless amount of time with moms in every season of life. And one of the most common aspects that I hear moms struggle with, is time. The belief that there’s not enough time to get everything done in a given day. But usually I take that as an opportunity to clue them into a little secret.


Your biggest asset is not time, its energy. And in order to reclaim your energy, there’s something very important that you will need to practice. It’s one word, one syllable, two letters, saying no.


I’m Dr. Charryse Johnson, founder of Jade Integrative Counseling and Wellness in Charlotte, North Carolina. And I want to talk to you about the three common mindsets that keep us from saying no, without feeling guilty.


One, somewhere along the way, we’ve confused rescuing with caring. We believe that jumping into every situation that our children, our partner, or the community is involved in is our way of showing care and concern. But it’s important for us to ask ourselves at what cost?


Two, we don’t want to disappoint the people around us. If you’ve grown up in a situation where saying no was met with significant disappointment, or even shame or guilt, that will further reinforce that it’s not okay for you to say no. But the truth is, it’s essential.


And then three, we have unrealistic expectations on ourselves as moms. This has been a huge issue over the last three years, when there’s been constant uncertainty and change, changing the context of your life. Every moment of your life will be different. What’s possible for you today is different than yesterday, and will change tomorrow. So it’s important for us to really look at our lives, moment by moment, situation by situation and pause and check in and ask ourselves, what do I need?


Here’s two ways that you can work on practicing now, if you’re still finding it difficult:

  1. One, instead of thinking ‘no’ as mean or final, perhaps reframing into ‘not now.’ It’s not so much that you don’t want to do something or you’re not responsible or available. It’s you recognizing that, although this might be a great opportunity, or even something that you will enjoy, you can’t do it and take care of all the other things that are on your plate. So it’s being able to communicate to those who ask, “thank you so much for asking me, but now is not the right time. Let’s try again in the future.”
  2. And then the other key piece that we often forget is what is your body trying to tell you. Our nervous system is designed with a phenomenal mechanism that warns us at the sign of danger. You have this fight, flight or freeze. So when someone asks you to do something, or even a child pulling on your shoulder, your body is going to react our challenges. We don’t always listen to our body. Instead, we go to our mind, which can keep us in a constant loop and cycle of trying to figure out the best thing. If it’s something that you should actually do. Your body will stay calm and grounded and at peace. But when you feel your heart racing when you’re starting to feel anxious and sweaty and worried and you’re not sleeping because you’re trying to figure out how to manage everything on your plate. That’s your body telling you please say no.


Saying no is self care. And contrary to what you believe, self care is not selfish. It’s survival.

Dr. Charryse Johnson is an experienced licensed clinical mental health therapist offering over 20 years of experience serving as a counselor, consultant, and educator. She holds a B.A. in Human Development, an M.A. in Professional Counseling, and PhD in Counseling Psychology. She is a strong community advocate and has been a contributor on local radio, social media, local news outlets, and documentaries and is passionate about reducing the stigma around mental health. She is founder and owner of Jade Integrative Counseling and Wellness.

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