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It’s OK to Say No to Opportunities

how-to-say-noWe’re all faced with choices every single day of our lives. We’re also faced with numerous opportunities. These choices and opportunities come in questions from our friends, loved ones and colleagues. Some opportunities have incredible potential to take us places we never could have imagined. Some are just everyday opportunities, such as going to the bar with some friends.

The problem with a multitude of choices is the fact that to some, we’re inevitably going to have to say no.

Sometimes, something you’ve always wanted comes along. It could mean a fat paycheck or recognition. Initially you say yes, but as you get further into it, you realize what a burden this new project is going to be.

For me, it’s the choice of either rewriting my book to an agent’s specifications and potentially selling it for thousands of dollars or staying where I am in life, struggling a bit with money but essentially comfortable with everything I need.

I could take on this huge project that could take years and increase my stress. Or I could continue with life as it is, without the added stress but also without the potential of one day having things be much better.

The point I’m trying to make is that sometimes these choices come along in life and it’s perfectly acceptable to say no. I guess I’m writing this as much to justify it to myself as I am to instruct. The fact remains, you have to be comfortable with your life. If taking on something huge is going to overwhelm you and possibly lead to complications with stress down the line, it’s OK to say no.

This is especially true for someone with mental illness, where stress in and of itself can be a major trigger. You have to be conscious of what could happen if you take on something that is going to overwhelm you. I know it can be exciting when the potential for fame, fortune and perceived happiness are on the line, but is all that worth a potential breakdown in the process?

Regardless of whether you choose to say yes or no, either option is perfectly acceptable. Whatever happens, you will still be the same person you’ve always been and life will essentially be the same it’s always been. There’s literally nothing that has the potential to change your life that significantly.

Life moves in waves and it’s true that when one door closes another opens. Although you may have regrets, there are always other options. That fact alone makes it much easier to live with your choices and accept them as perfectly rational. Sure, you may come back to the idea that you could’ve had it all at some point down the line, and you may feel guilty for giving up an opportunity. But as time passes it will get easier and you’ll get more comfortable. Who’s to say an even better opportunity won’t come at some point down the line? You never know what life has in store. If you work hard, focus on the good things and persevere, amazing things will happen.

As for me, I still haven’t decided whether to take on the huge task of rewriting my book. But with every passing day, I’m getting more and more comfortable with the fact that whatever happens, it won’t be the end of things.

It’s OK to Say No to Opportunities

Michael Hedrick

Mike Hedrick is a writer and photographer in Boulder, CO. He has lived with schizophrenia for many years and his work has been published in Salon, Scientific American and The New York Times. His book is available here You can follow his blog on living with schizophrenia here

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APA Reference
Hedrick, M. (2018). It’s OK to Say No to Opportunities. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 29, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 22 Dec 2014)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.