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Say "No" by Saying "Yes" to Something Else

Updated on June 05, 2019

Saying "no" with grace and honesty can be challenging. Sometimes our fear of ending a conversation awkwardly or letting a friend or relative down can nudge us into saying "yes" to things that are difficult for us. When managing a chronic condition, saying "no" can feel more complicated. Will they ever ask again? Will the invites stop coming? Have I said "no" too often?

An alternative way to say "no" is to create a third option, another choice. For instance, you are invited to a barbecue, but you don’t have the energy to socialize in a group setting. You could say, “I won’t make it to the barbecue, but maybe we can get coffee next week?”


Bad days or symptoms arising out of the blue are beyond your control. Asking for a raincheck or suggesting a future get-together instead shows it's important to you but lets you focus on self-care.

Here are some conversations from the community about this topic:

“One thing I have learned is to ask for wheelchair service when I fly. Then I don’t have to worry about how far I have to walk to my departure gate.”

“How much is the stress of caring for her needs going to affect my ability to care for myself?”

“I’m having a day of rest so that I can go out with friends tonight for dinner.”

Have you found alternative ways of saying "no," without saying "no?"
Share in the comments below.

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