Learning to Say No – The Best Gift I Could Give Myself This Holiday Season

People don’t understand my limits when I feel too overwhelmed at the end of a long work week to go out on a Friday. They take things personally when I decline their invitations.

I used to get caught up in upsetting them. One one day, like a light bulb, I realized that I was not responsible for their feelings.

Taking on too many things is not good for my health. Social activities, although enjoyable, are very tiresome to me especially if they take place in a busy environment.

I may choose to stay in, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t want to go out.

I’ve learned that limiting activities that drain my brain, especially during and around busy work weeks, is something that I have to do. If I don’t conserve my energy at home, I won’t have the energy to do my job.

My job can be stressful but it’s actually a very fun job and I enjoy it.

I always want to be fresh and ready to do my best at work. That means taking care of myself – mentally and physically, eating healthy, and getting plenty of rest. I need to be sharp in order to work.

I have to say “no” to people. Some people get tired of hearing “no” over and over.  I’ve lost friends over this. It sucks to loose friends but my health has to come first.

Why do our parents teach us that “no” is a dirty word?

I think “no” is a wonderfully empowering word. Learning to say “no” has set me free.

No – I won’t do it anymore – not if it’s not good for me.

Learning to say no was the best gift I could possibly give myself this holiday season. This year, I hope that I can somehow give this gift to you.


With love and thanks,

Anonymously Autistic




38 thoughts on “Learning to Say No – The Best Gift I Could Give Myself This Holiday Season”

  1. !!! I read this blog while nodding my head in agreement. In addition to completely relating to your topic- I seem to have some friends that confuse the decline of a social invitation as confirmation that I am a flakey pastry. I think they say bitch instead of pastry, though. Perhaps if I passed out a bunch of “maybe” responses, I would better understand their ire, but NO is so firm and final and reliable. Quite the opposite of flakey.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Yes, absolutely so. It’s important to prioritise. And to make sure that your energies go into things you enjoy as well as those you ‘must’ do.
    And we live in an amazing time for virtual participation – often for me it is travel or the duration of a social event that make it ‘too much’ but I can use Skype or Periscope, chat with various messaging apps, see the photos… Thank you for posting.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Great post. It actually took me years to come to this conclusion. I’ve only accepted my limitations in the last five years or so..being 46 that leaves the majority of my life so far saying yes to things that I mostly didn’t want to do. Even the things I desperately wanted to do like seeing Duran Duran in concert came at a price to my mental health. I have been more honest about myself in the last few years than ever because I just don’t have the energy to fake it anymore. I tell people the truth now and I don’t get invited again, not that invites were a regular occurrence to begin with. I have one real life friend who understands. That’s enough for me.

    Liked by 3 people

        1. I actually only write 3 days a week for about 2 hours a day. I schedule everything one post m-f in advance and try to be about a week or two ahead. Since I have to watch my health I want to be sure that if I need to take a week off for illness or just rest – I still have something for my readers. ❤


  4. I love this. Saying “no”, especially before we get overwhelmed, is an important part of our self-care, I think. Although the term “setting boundaries” might seem cliche, I think it’s a very real and fundamental need and right 😊😊

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Oops! Hit “submit” too early. Lol 😊 Anyway, I wanted to say that I love this post; it’s especially timely; there are a lot of us, of course, who will be traveling or getting together with family and whatnot, and there’ll be a lot of extra tasks and demands placed on most. I think it’s really smart to be thinking of survival skills and self-preservation ahead of time.

    As this is the first holiday season since my realization/discovery and diagnosis, I personally have a better idea than I did before of how various things affect me–such as more people condensed into one space, extra sensory load, foods I’m not used to eating (and may or may not be something I can have), being in places I’m not typically used to being in, etc. And I will need to adjust my own activities and surroundings to avoid overload. Overload is a funny thing–it can sneak up on me. So I have to remain somewhat vigilant.

    Thank you so much for the reminder that I can indeed say “no”, and that in fact, I should when needed. 😊😊

    Liked by 1 person

  6. “I have to say “no” to people. Some people get tired of hearing “no” over and over. I’ve lost friends over this. It sucks to loose friends but my health has to come first.” ~~ I have experienced this quite often because of my epilepsy. I see this with my brother as well with his autism.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I loathe that “no” seems like such an impolite word, but in reality declining an invitation when done with respect is not impolite at all. It really is important to learn what is too much and how to let people know gracefully when you need to bow out. It only gets easier with practice and I usually find that if I make alternate future plans it lessens the blow. I hope you manage to keep your schedule light over the next few very busy weeks. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I gave myself the same gift for my birthday. I have not only accepted that I need to say no, but embrace it. I call myself a hermit jokingly, but I am one in every sense of the word. If I am around too much of anything – people, lights, noise, etc. I cannot handle it. I used to apologize or feel like I am broken, but there is nothing more wholesome than being true to yourself and your needs. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ” If I am around too much of anything – people, lights, noise, etc. I cannot handle it.” Me too…. but I used to just hide suffer in pain on my own. I would shut down and implode on myself or crash and burn as soon as I have a moment of privacy. That is not living and I won’t do it anymore. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Absolutely!. I have a problem saying “no” in just about any situation… and sometimes it bothers me so much because I can be a total pushover. But I’m learning that I need to stand up for myself, because no one else will.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Saying no to over committing is a good thing – but say yes to life, stride out on your terms and grab it and enjoy it – No means denial if it isn’t used judiciously. ~But its a good thing to want to take care of You. Heather xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Whether the word is no or yes, if it honours our heart-felt needs, then we are best served by using whatever words work for us. Health issues are especially misunderstood by others, particularly if our illness is not overtly visible. The best thing we can do is listen to our own heart and trust our instincts. We serve ourselves and others this way, because what use are we if we continually pushed to the point of breaking, and, we also show others the importance of self-care.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I can fully relate to this!
    I too had to learn that it was okay to say “no” and that the fact that I don’t have ‘plans for tonight’ is not the same as saying I am ‘free’. It took time and practice, but I have gotten pretty good at it, although I still sometimes find it difficult to assess correctly how much I am able to do without having a mental breakdown (sudden misery with endless crying, anxiety attack, …). So I am still practicing to get better at understanding myself and knowing my limits.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Wonderful post with many supportive comments that certainly characterize you as a great blogger. I am glad I follow. I think it is noble of you to assert that you can’t join every event that comes up owing to your specific life circumstances. I was moved by the great comments that followed the post, and how you respond with words of thanks that I know mean a lot to the people who have left you comments. Well done!

    Liked by 2 people

  14. I married your avatar at some point. I don’t know when but it happened. There’s no proof but these things happen. Every advancement I made was “No”. Being a master of acceptance of things I can’t change, I said, “Fine. No, it is. But we’re married. you can leave me, but we’re married, for life and if you ever need me, I’ll be here to help out in any small or large way I can.”


    I think this is how friends should be. We’re friends. We’re together but we are not obligated to entertain each other, or do for each other. However, if a need arises, then asking for help should not be a death sentence. For life people can remain friends, but there is a line crossed when a friend becomes that pet you want with you to show off and share a moment. That’s what it felt like anyway. You didn’t lose a friend, A.A. A part of stress simply walked out of your life. It might have been stress you got accustomed to, but it was stress nonetheless.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. hello anna. thanks for following my blog. Many of your posts are valuable and representative of anyone autistic or otherwise. many spiritual seekers are also like time for themselves and find too much social interaction a drain. So do students and artists and even home makers and caregivers. This was important for me to know. Thanks for writing.

    Liked by 1 person

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