How to Say No Without Feeling Guilty

You know you should say NO because it's what will be best for your family and for yourself but you don't want to offend or leaving someone in a lurch. I've been there. But saying NO is healthy and it doesn't mean that you are a horrible mom/friend/employee/leader. Learn to say NO without the guilt because we can't do it all, even though as moms, we usually try to juggle it all. Saying NO will change your life and make you feel much less overwhelmed.

For many of us, saying NO is hard because we don’t want to upset someone or inconvenience someone or maybe you just don’t want to turn down a good opportunity...all are totally understandable! By saying, YES when we really want or need to say NO we are actually setting ourselves up for potential failure (at the very least, you’re setting yourself up for MAJOR stress!).

Saying NO helps you create healthy boundaries for yourself and your family, giving you room for much-needed margin and time to keep your priorities in line.

To know when you need to say NO, you need to know what your priorities are. You can do this by creating a family mission statement or choosing a personal word to live by. Once you have your priorities written out, you can start saying NO to anything that doesn’t line up with your priorities.

Saying NO isn’t being selfish, as moms, it is our job to organize our household. “When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet...She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all,” Proverbs 31:21, 27-29. Part of “watch[ing] over the affairs of [our] household” is to keep our family’s calendar and that means making sure it isn’t so packed that we can’t breathe. Say NO to protect your family and your family’s calendar.

We know we need to say NO but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. I know I am guilty of saying YES just because I don’t want to deal with feeling guilty later. But it is possible to say NO without feeling guilty! This is something I have been working on and I feel like I am getting so much better!

Romans 8:1 says, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…” Guilt means “a feeling of responsibility or remorse for some offense, crime, wrong, etc., whether real or imagined” (dictionary.com). We are literally condemning ourselves because guilt does NOT come from Christ.

How to say no without feeling guilty! Because guilt does not come from Christ!

How to Say NO Without Feeling Guilty

1. Help them find an alternative option

Maybe you feel bad because someone legitimately needs help with something, you just aren’t the person who can help. Instead of feeling bad that you can’t help, try and find someone else who is the right fit! Then you have helped without adding all the responsibility onto your plate.

Example: One of your mom friends is pregnant and needs someone to watch her other kid(s) while she goes to a doctor’s appointment. You need to say no because you don’t have the margin right now. Shoot a text to a quick text to a couple of friends and see if any of them would be willing to help out your pregnant friend.

2. Your family comes first, after Christ

This goes back to knowing your priorities. What are your family’s priorities that you outlined in your family mission statement or when you chose your word for the year. First, say YES to the things that are most important and anything left should get a NO. No need to feel bad when the most important things are being taken care of.

Example: You are a stay-at-home mom and you are offered a temporary, part-time job outside of the home. While the extra income would be helpful it would mean sacrificing family time, you wouldn’t be able to homeschool your preschooler, and your entire family would be under significant stress. Your family is more important than the extra income you would be making. (I’m not saying it’s bad to work!! I myself work 2 jobs from home and 1 job outside of the home!)

3. You can give a reason for your no (but you don't always have to)

If you tend to feel guilty after saying NO because you assume that the other person is upset with you, then go ahead and give them a reason for why you are saying NO. Now, this isn’t always necessary. People need to understand boundaries and respect other people’s decisions but if giving them the reason makes you feel better, then go ahead!

Example: A friend is hosting an Usborne or Tupperware party (or something like that) and they send you an invite. You want to say yes but you know it’s not in the budget right now for you to place an order so you don’t want to be tempted so you know you need to say no. This friend happens to be easily offended and you don’t want them to be upset with you so you can go ahead and give them the reason so they understand and don’t take it personally.


Feeling guilty for saying no is a natural thing because we are humans and we want to please others and serve others. But saying no allows you to live intentionally and keep your priorities in line (Christ and then Family). I would love to know who else struggles with saying NO? Share your story of saying NO (or saying YES when you should have said NO) on Instagram and tag me and use #iamajoyfulhomemaker so we can all see it and be encouraged!