The Nice Girl’s Guide To Saying No*.

*How to set boundaries and take care of yourself Without feeling like a total slacker.

Most of us have been conditioned since we were little girls to be helpful. To be nice. To work hard and get along. To work for gold stars and be thrilled when we get them.

We grow up to value our productivity. We’re proud of how busy and helpful we are, how much we’re needed and liked.

We’re people pleasers, overachievers, and perfectionists. 

But it’s important to know that trying to do it all and being all things to all people can really set you back in early sobriety.

In order to quit drinking successfully you need to lower the bar.

Do less. Commit to less. 

I know it’s hard. So I’m going to help you get started.

But before we talk about HOW to say no, let’s wrap our heads around WHY it’s important to evaluate and edit how you spend your time, energy and resources. 

There are a lot of pressures on us in this world to say yes to everything.

We’ve been doing it for years.

And guess what? It’s left us tired, anxious, overwhelmed and unsatisfied. 

Most “Nice Girls” have a LIFETIME of conditioning that makes it hard for us to be comfortable with ‘not helping out’.

It’s important for us to be liked and accepted.

We’ve been taught to be helpful, accommodating, to work hard and be a contributor. 

We thrive on getting gold stars and pats on the back.

We feel valuable when we are productive. 

And, as a modern woman in this world, as a daughter, wife, mother, employee, neighbor and friend, there is an endless list of people asking us for things that we feel like we ‘should’ do.

Why do we feel like we should say yes? Well… 

  • Because someone has to do it.
  • Because we were asked.
  • Because we want to be helpful.
  • Because we hope that someone would help us if we asked.
  • Because we’re nice people.
  • Because we want to be liked.
  • Because it should be done.
  • Because we’re really good at getting things done.
  • Because we’ll likely do it better than anyone else.
  • [Insert your reason here].

But you’re ready for things in your life to change.

You’re here because you’re running too hard and running on empty.

You’ve got too much to do and not enough hours in the day.

You don’t have any time for yourself.

And evaluating and editing your commitments is an essential step in building a life you truly love.

  • It’s a key step in taking control of your time, money and energy.
  • It’s critical to helping you avoid overwhelm and burnout.
  • It helps you do more of what you love and less of what brings you down.


Kindly, but firmly, and without apologizing.

So, here’s your step by step guide & cheat sheet


  1. Compliment to the person requesting your time, help or energy.
  2. Say no to the request.
  3. Say thank you (for asking or for thinking of you).
  4. Encourage the person in their project.
  5. Move along – change the subject or excuse yourself.

Remember you’re not saying no because you’re not a good person or because you don’t want to help.

You’re saying no because you’re prioritizing yourself, your time, your dreams, your goals and your happiness.


And you can’t do that if every free moment is filled up with stuff you don’t want to do.

This is how change happens in your life. You are saying no to what weighs you down.

Smile. Be kind. Don’t apologize. You’ve got this!

Here are a few examples of how you might use this formula.

  • ALL the volunteer opportunities: “You’re so kind to think of me to help out with this project at school. This year I decided to only commit to one new activity. And I decided to [learn to play the guitar, take French lessons, do yoga teacher training, read new books, join a running group, take as many bubble baths as possible, anything at all that lights YOU up]. Thank you for asking. I know you’ll pull together a great group.”
  • A colleague at work: “Thanks for thinking of me to help you on this project. I’m not able to now because [my actual job requirements, insert your example here] need my full attention and will for the next four or five days. I appreciate your reaching out though, and I know you’ll get everything done. You always do. I think we’re all feeling under pressure with the deadlines these days.”
  • A friend stopping by uninvited: “Hi friend! It’s good to see you. I like your necklace (or jacket or hair). I’m sorry I can’t invite you in now. I have other things that need my attention. (Note: In this case the thing that needs your attention is your hour alone, the novel you’re reading, the vision board you’re building, a nap, whatever). Give me a call tomorrow, and we’ll find a good time to get together.”

Remember that “No” is a complete sentence, but if it helps to have a few other ways to phrase it, here are some other options:

  • No thanks, I won’t be able to make it.
  • Sounds like a lovely evening, maybe another time.
  • I’m flattered you considered me, but unfortunately I’ll have to pass this time.
  • Thank you for thinking of me. It doesn’t sound like the right fit for me right now.
  • No, sorry, that’s not really my thing.
  • Thank you for asking, but I’m not taking on new things right now.
  • Thanks, but I’m not able to make it this week/month/year.
  • What a great idea! Unfortunately I’m not able to come.
  • No thank you, but it sounds lovely.
  • No thanks, I have another commitment.
  • Sounds great, but I can’t commit.
  • I’ll need to bow out, I’m taking some extra time for myself.
  • I’m honored, but can’t.
  • Thank you so much for asking. Maybe next year.

Practice makes perfect. You’ve got this! 

Set some boundaries and you'll have time to read a good book.

If it's not a Hell, Yes! It's a No.

Life's too short to be running on empty.

Design a Life you Love!

 nOW LET’S put this into action!

 You have homework: Pick two things this week that you are NOT going to do.

This can be two things you were planning on doing that you are going to take off your list, or two things that someone asks you to do that you kindly (but firmly) decline. 

 And then, sit back and just let it sink in. You said no.

 If you feel slightly uncomfortable with it, that’s OK. It will pass. You’ll survive.

 Remember: each of us has only so much time and energy each day.

If you fill up your day, even with very helpful and positive things that are important to other people, your time and energy will be spent without prioritizing yourself, your goals, and the endeavors that make you truly happy.

 Because of this you need to say no to requests and commitments that don’t light you up SIMPLY SO you have time and energy available for something else.

 You’re going to OPEN UP time and energy for the universe and for yourself.

 You’re going to stop filling up every hour to leave room for simple pleasures or something new and unknown.

This may seem silly, but it’s important, and it’s bigger than whatever two small things you’re saying no to this week.

  • You are building new muscles.
  • You are practicing adding boundaries.
  • You are putting yourself first.
  • You are learning to not say yes to everything that’s asked of you.

 [And as a bonus you’ll get out of doing some crap you don’t REALLY didn’t want to do in the first place :)]

About The Author

I’m Casey McGuire Davidson, a certified life coach who works with successful women who are ready to get out of overwhelm and create lives they love. 

I also work with women who are reevaluating their relationship with alcohol and have decided that drinking isn’t working in their lives anymore.

You can find more about my work and private coaching, as well as additional support resources at hellosomedaycoaching.com.