How to set boundaries: learning to say no

Setting boundaries is one of the highest forms of self-love and self-care I can think of.

But isn’t it so interesting how difficult it can be for us to take care of ourselves, and to see ourselves as worthy?

Without learning the art of saying no, without setting healthy boundaries, we can run ourselves into the ground. We won’t ever get to experience real happiness.

If you’re having a hard time setting boundaries, you’ve come to the right place.

Read on for valuable tips from Ann and resources on how to set boundaries to make room for more joy in your life.


This post may contain affiliate links. They will be of no extra expense for you, but I receive a small credit. Please see my disclaimer for more details. Thank you for supporting THA!

Why is it that, as women, we have an especially hard time saying no?

It doesn’t matter if we lack the time, energy or strength, we still shudder at the thought of letting someone down even when it’s in our best interest to do so. 

We are confident, strong and self-reliant.

Yet we seem unable to understand how to set boundaries with our friends and family even when we’re feeling overwhelmed and defeated.

Overcommitting is frequent and we spend countless hours tirelessly scrambling to get everything done with looming deadlines upon us.

It’s time to take your life back.

Serving others is an innate trait found deep within each of us and I applaud you for being so selfless.

However, there are going to be moments when you can’t do it all. Learning how to set boundaries and politely turn someone down is crucial to your well-being.

You are not a bad person because you can’t commit to every request. 

How to set boundaries: 6 ways
Take a moment to think before you respond

When someone asks you for a favor, take some time to analyze the situation. Check your calendar or process the time commitment that would be required.

You don’t want to overcommit or stretch yourself too thin.


Taking some time before you commit gives you a moment to properly analyze the situation.


Doing so will help you avoid feeling overwhelmed and ultimately underdelivering on your promises because you had too much going on at once.


If you’re having a hard time figuring out how to truly be happy, this is where you need to start. Grab your FREE Happiness Agreement Pledge to get started.

Don’t do something you don’t want to

Now, of course, there are assignments at work you’d rather not complete or household chores you’d love to skip out on.

Although there will be situations in which you’ll have to toughen up and get through mundane tasks, there are many times when it’ll be completely ok to say no. 

Every time my husband is out of town, I am flooded with kind texts and calls from friends inviting me to go out for a girls’ night or to come over for dinner with their families.

However, as a closet introvert, all I want to do is stay home alone after a long day at work.

There are many times that I choose to stay home and that’s ok!

There will always be future opportunities for friend-dates so make sure you put yourself first when you need time alone.


If you don’t agree with what you’re being asked to do whether ethically, morally or the timing simply doesn’t work out, consider a compromise.

Whatever the reason, it’s important to always make sure you’re comfortable. Give suggestions to help make the situation fair and beneficial to all parties involved if you do agree to commit.

Your Time is Valuable

I have people ask me to do things for free all the time.

As an experienced nanny, graphic designer and travel blogger, I get flooded with requests to do favors multiple times a week. Especially to babysit close friends’ kids.

On occasion, I am happy to help, but for the most part, I have to value what my time is worth and charge them my normal hourly rate.

Don’t cut yourself short!

Even if you’re in the process of learning a new skill, make sure you’re not being taken advantage of. Be prepared to speak up when the opportunity presents itself because eventually, it will.

Don’t Overcommit

This is the story of my life.

Saying no has never been my strong suit and I am a serious over-committer. I used to say yes to EVERYTHING and, to no surprise, I was mediocre at everything I did.

I allowed myself to be spread too thin and never gave myself enough time to become an expert in anything.

By overcommitting, it’s not fair to the people you’re agreeing to help and it’s especially not fair to yourself.

They would much rather have you turn them down and find someone who can give 100% than have you say yes and do your job half-heartedly because you’re distracted by other commitments.

Ask For Help

There are going to be times you can’t say no.

You have a deadline fast approaching at work, your kids are home sick, or a close friend has had a family emergency and needs your immediate assistance.

During these moments, rely on your support system to help you through when you’ve taken on too much to handle.

There is an army of people eager to love and support you however they can. Recruit their help to get you through the difficult times.

Here’s the bottom line:

There are going to be plenty of moments in your life when you’re able to say yes.

Helping people is in our nature and it feels so good.

But when there is a need to say no, use these techniques to learn how to set boundaries while maintaining a strong relationship with the person you’re talking with.