Lessons Learned: the Power of Saying “No”


A year ago today, on Wednesday April 22, 2015 I celebrated the completion of Certified Nurses Aid course. I note this, not because I remember this day due to that important goal being met, but because facebook told me. There’s a nifty little post that pops up every so often, showing what you posted on that same day in years past. While scrolling through the feed I did a double take when I saw the photo which was taken on the last day of our class. I remember staring at the picture for a while, and not quite registering the fact that it had been a whole year already.

I took out my red Moleskine planner from 2015 and flipped through it until I found the page I was looking for. There it was, I had recorded everything, down to the 100% score I received on the final exam. Yes, I am the type of person who writes everything that is important to me down in planners, notebooks and slips of paper I stuff in my purse. As I read through my notes, goals and observations during that time I am transported to that time.

It isn’t every day that you get to do something you absolutely love, but I was, at least for a little while. This is something that a lot of people don’t understand. Yes, I know I’m getting ahead of myself here, but we’ll get to the point soon. So I worked at a nursing home for about 6 months in California, and about 6 months in Colorado. I’m the type of person who really enjoys helping people. I like to be dependable and resourceful and well liked. Well, I learned a very important lesson.

I am constantly working on improving myself. The motivations that no one else sees, the fierce need to help people and protect them while adhering to my own limitations and the fact that I just can’t do everything that I would like to do. I’m a quirky nut, but the main point I want to bring out is the fact that we need to be reasonable with ourselves. Often, this means learning how to say, “No, I’m not able to do that. I’m sorry.”

Suddenly I was thrust into working nights at a nursing home again, which I had told myself and my husband I never, ever wanted to do again. Why? I wanted to be helpful, I didn’t want to be a bother. So, I agreed to do what I knew I would hate, because I was too nice to say no.

My positive, bubbly self quickly wilted. I soon became a person who walked around in a daze: tired, grumpy, and angry because I was hungry at different times than everyone else. It wasn’t long before I started searching for a different job, anything to get me away from working nights. I loved taking care of the residents who lived at the skilled nursing facility, but the nights, the heavy lifting and no sleep just had me in knots. I was losing myself in this job and I knew something had to change.

After a short 4 months I was given the opportunity to work as a virtual receptionist at an answering service. I had my hesitations. I thought, me? A strange, quirky introvert who is sometimes kind of an extrovert, but really doesn’t like talking to people on the phone? The pull of no more nights was strong. It was a mere 2 weeks before I was goodbye to my night job and hello to normal hours and an incredibly positive and joy filled day job.

Lessons Learned:

Trust your Instincts, and Just Say No

  • For example, If you know you would hate working nights, just say no. Don’t allow anyone to make you do something that you really, really don’t want to do. It’s the same in relationships and other responsibilities. If you have a bad feeling about it, say no.
  • Remember, there is no harm in turning down another responsibility when you already have too much on your plate. I said yes, knowing that it was a bad idea. I suffered from that decision, but I was most angry at myself since I’m the one who said yes.
  • Stand up for yourself! Be aware of what you put as a “to do” on your agenda. Remember, we all have 24 hours in every day and we should be reasonable with our abilities.

Analyze Your Mindset – Be Joyful

  • This is something that will allow you to have a positive outlook on life, even in the rough circumstances that life throws at you. We need to change our vision from the inside out, beginning with the thoughts we plant inside our minds and allow to grow. If we are constantly fueling the negative, then we won’t have room for the little bits of joy that pop up in our day to day lives.
  • There is always a bright side to every situation. Even if it feels like the worst anyone has ever experienced. I didn’t know that my circumstances would change, but I was actively searching for something better, while trying my best to stay positive about the situation I had gotten myself into.

In Conclusion…

On nights when my mind is racing and I just can’t stifle the anguish that clings to me, my husband tells me this, “You’ve done everything you can do for the day. Just remember that everybody you know and care about and love is safe at home in bed sleeping, and that’s what you should be doing too.”


3 thoughts on “Lessons Learned: the Power of Saying “No”

  1. Your husband sounds lovely! And wise too! Kindness is an underrated by many and kind people are often taken for granted.. Big sigh… such is life… We need kind people in our nursing homes, schools, hospitals and to be there for us when we need something. It’s good to be needed too but not if it exhaust us and makes us sick. It took me a long time to learn to look someone in the eyes and just say no and mean it too. The world did not come to an end and I guess if us mother types take care of ourselves a little more we can be better carers too. I deeply respect nurses and care workers. Pat yourself on the back you deserve it…

    Liked by 1 person

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