How to Say 'No' (Without Guilt)

No — it's a simple one-syllable word that many women find hard to say, even when they should.

For women who are worried about feelings of guilt or letting someone down, the weight of great expectations can take a toll.

Life coach, and author of "The Art of Extreme Self-Care: Transform Your Life One Month at a Time", Cheryl Richardson offers you insight on how to turn people down politely and successfully.

She said it all begins with putting yourself first, and with recognizing that popularity is overrated and that guilt is your friend.

VIDEO: Life coach Cheryl Richardson shows 19 women how to take back their life.
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Here is her advice:

Make Extreme Self-Care a Priority

These are very challenging times, but it's in times like these that extreme self-care becomes even more important.

This added pressure is serious. It's straining marriages; it's making people sick, so this is the time to give people the tools to practice extreme self-care and the permission to do it.

And it's not selfish. We need to stop thinking of this as a luxury and start thinking about it as a necessity. This is the kind of thing that nourishes you and strengthens you, so you're better prepared to deal with these very real problems.

It's not selfish; it's the key to being a better mother, a better wife, a better daughter. Taking care of yourself is the foundation.

Practice Makes Perfect

None of this costs money. Tell your loved ones to expect to hear "no" from you more than "yes."

You're going to make friends with guilt and anxiety as you start practicing saying "no." But practice makes sanity.

Say, "You know what? Not being able to disappoint people is costing me big time and I've got to get good at it. I have to practice and I've got to start somewhere. Guess what? I've chosen you."

Guilt Is Good

When the guilt comes up, imagine putting your arm around it like an old friend and going, "Hey, buddy. I'm so glad you're here, because you are an indication that I've done something right for myself."

Stop pretending everything's OK when it isn't. Find someone you trust to confide in and share what's going on. If you don't have a friend, turn to the church or to a life makeover group.

Then, ask friends to hold you to it — ask them to hold you accountable to the changes you need to make.

Failure Is Your Friend

There's no quick fix. But choose one thing you'll do differently from this moment forward and I guarantee you'll breathe easier. Do it right now, while the inspiration is fresh in your mind.

Check out Cheryl's Life Makeover Web site by clicking here.

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