At various points in my life, I’ve been a “yes-woman.”

In other words, I usually jumped at the chance to say yes to people’s requests of me. I helped in whatever way I could—by devoting my time and energy, often unconditionally, to satisfy other people’s needs. The result? I got completely burnt out. I felt exhausted, stressed, and lethargic much of the time. The problem was that after saying yes to everyone else, I had no inner resources left to care for myself.  

My situation is not unique. Many of us are so devoted to helping others—whether it is our spouse, our children, or even a charitable cause—that we lose ourselves in the process. We base our lives around making other people happy, to the point that we forget to nurture ourselves.

To get out of this predicament, I recommend using a simple two-letter word: N-O.

At first, this can be hard. Deep down, many of us believe that “no” is a dirty word. Often, we’re absolutely terrified of disappointing people. Do the following situations sound familiar?

  • Your boss asks you to work over the weekend, and you say yes because you don’t want to look like a bad employee.
  • A friend asks you to help paint her house every night for a week, and you agree because you don’t want her to be upset with you.
  • Your kids beg you to drive them all over town—even though you were planning on having a bubble bath—and you give in because you don’t want to feel like a bad parent.

This type of behavior serves everyone around us, but often leaves us feeling empty.

I’d like to encourage you to practice disappointing people. In her book The Art of Extreme Self Care, Cheryl Richardson has an excellent chapter called “Let Me Disappoint You.” To many of us, this is a foreign (and scary) idea. We’re afraid to disappoint other people because we want them to like us or love us or approve of us.

But sooner or later, you just have to put your foot down and say no.

Life is too short to spend all your time trying to make everyone else happy. Besides, it’s impossible to please everyone all the time!

Of course, I’m not advocating that you become completely self-serving or ignore everyone else’s needs. But a little bit of selfishness can be a good thing. In fact, I guarantee that if you start saying no and begin taking more time to nurture your own needs, you’ll actually become a better worker, spouse, parent, and person.

Why? Because you’ll have the inner resources and energy to show up in the world as your best self.

This week, I’d like you to practice saying no to someone. Take some time for yourself instead. The world won’t end, and, in most cases, your relationship with that person will remain in tact. If it doesn’t, the person probably wasn’t worth having in your life anyway.

What do you need to say no to in your life right now? Share your comments below!

Put your needs first, and watch how the rest of your life will start falling into place.

Bethany Butzer, Ph.D. is an author, speaker, researcher, and yoga teacher who helps people create a life they love. Check out her book, The Antidepressant Antidote, follow her on Facebook and Twitter, and join her whole-self health revolution.

If you’d like tips on the topic of manifesting your dream job, plus some personal instruction from Bethany, check out her online course, Creating A Life You Love: Find Your Passion, Live Your Purpose and Create Financial Freedom.

*Photo by grassrootsy.