When to Say Yes, How to Say No

by | Dec 1, 2020 | Blog

There was a time when I felt a need to fill every inch of my planner until there was no space left for breathing.

There was a time when I felt a need to fill every inch of my planner until there was no space left for breathing.

Over the past eleven years as a military spouse, I have realized that more often than not military spouses are great at many things. We keep the home front going strong. We are the peacemakers to our children. We make the lunches, pack the cars, go to work, do the shopping. We tend to do it all, usually without asking for help and often without complaint. 

But one area where I am particularly surprised is our ability to say “yes.” We military spouses say yes to almost anything. Our service member leaves and in the wake of that absence we tend to jump into E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G. We dive in head-first, even when we have no business adding something into our already hectic lives. We take every position known to us: PTA chair at our child’s school, FRG for our soldier’s unit, planning brunches and dinners with friends. We. Do. It. All. 

There was a time when I felt a need to fill every inch of my planner until there was no space left for breathing. Does that sound like you? When we say yes to all the things, it can be a detriment to our personal lives and our health. How many times have you volunteered for something before asking yourself if you even really want to do it or even have the time available to do it well? We volunteer for everything under the sun only to feel paper thin and one small event away from completely unraveling at the seams. 

This was my go-to method for surviving deployments and, at first, I was convinced that my method was brilliant. I seemed happy and over-scheduled (my favorite way to be), until I realized that I was doing everything and nothing all at once. I was running around with no time to breathe. I started to pay attention. I started to wonder about the why behind my actions.


Here’s the deal. Things only became clear once I completely cleared my schedule and started asking myself all the right questions. So here are the questions I would like to encourage you to ask yourself: 

1.     What would truly bring you joy?

2.     Which relationships do you want to invest time in growing?

3.     What areas do you want to grow in professionally? 

 It was only once I cleared the slate that I could begin the real work of determining what I was willing to say yes to. Everything I ever wanted was muddied by all the other menial things I had sheepishly committed to. Rather than feeling strongly about the few commitments I had and doing them fully to the best of my ability, I was doing everything with minimal attention.

 The book that helped clarify my yes and put it all into perspective for me was Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. I had no idea that saying yes and no was all about boundaries. Your yes is all about what you’re willing to say no to. 


 Once I realized what I was willing to say yes to, it was so clear on where I drew the hard line of no. It was no longer an arbitrary moving target. I no longer needed to feel obligated or guilted into serving a particular position. I realized that once I said no to a particular thing and moved on, others were able to serve in that volunteer capacity and that perhaps it was their yes position. 

Saying no is hard. It is such a simple word but carries so much weight. Saying no means you could possibly be letting someone down. But the only person you’re really letting down if you don’t say no is yourself! Saying no can be done in a way that is both kind and respectful and, ultimately, it will be respected because you are drawing a hard line on what time you are willing to give and others will respect you for that. 

Here’s to clearing the slate clean and staring blankness square in the face. Take the time to invest in YOU. After all, you are all you have. Pay attention to the whispers of your heart, guiding you to lean into a yes in certain areas. And pay attention to what your body is telling you. Fatigued? Slow down. Feeling anxious? Clarify what you’re doing and make sure it is in line with your heart’s mission. 

When to Say Yes, How to Say No

When to Say Yes, How to Say No


Sonia Garza

Sonia Garza

 Sonia Garza is a proud Green Beret wife, mother to two, and founder and editor of Spouse Connexion. A journalist by trade with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications/Journalism-Public Relations and a Master of Science in Nonprofit Management, her passion for writing has led her to write for print and online publications spanning from the West Coast to the East Coast, including local and on-post newspapers, lifestyle magazines, and military spouse blogs. Her background includes event management and community development in the nonprofit sector and her passion is connecting military spouses to each other and to their communities. She is on a mission to spotlight amazing military spouses and inspire others to learn, grow, and connect with each other to live their best military life. 


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