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How to Say No as a Woman Physician

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Do you ever find yourself shaking your head yes and agreeing to something even you’re really thinking, “Ughhh…. I don’t want to do this!”? And then you immediately regret the decision? I’ve been there too.

The internal struggle

Soon after starting my academic allergy and immunology job, my section chief encouraged me to get a Masters of Public Health. I’m sure it would have been useful and strategic for our group research and would have opened a multitude of doors that I had never considered. There was just one problem. When I really got honest with myself, getting my MPH was the very LAST thing I wanted to do.

Learning to say “No”

When I really stop and think, it’s amazing how many things I did or almost did because I felt bad saying no. This is exactly why I came so close to going ahead and starting an MPH program, even though I didn’t want to do it. (crazy, right??)So why was I considering doing it even thought no part of me wanted to? (No offense to any of you that have yours… I’m thankful to you because I just can’t do it…. It’s just not me.) I was worried about what others would think if I said no.

Are you a people pleaser?

So many times, I agreed to do things that just weren’t “me.” I did things I didn’t want to, because I didn’t want to let others down. I was a people pleaser, and I didn’t even realize it. Do you end up saying yes to things you wouldn’t otherwise do in order to affect another person’s opinion of you? Do you try to change the other person’s perception of you? (This is exactly what I was doing!)

Living your truth

Of course, I wanted my section chief to think I was ambitious, hardworking and a committed team player. That’s the only reason I was thinking about biting the bullet and going ahead with it. Other people’s opinions were overriding what I knew was best for myself. But then I realized several things.

To change my behavior in an attempt solely to alter my colleagues’ perception of me would not have been entirely honest. I wouldn’t have lived my truth. It would have diminished me. By saying no, I was able to show up as my most authentic self. Period. And why would I want to do anything less?

The benefits

When I decided to say no I created time for myself. I was being more honest. I felt less stress. What decision are you contemplating right now? If you really want to say no it’s okay. Show up as the most genuine version of yourself. Create time for the things you WANT to say yes to. (high five, lady.)

Kricia Palmer, MD, ASID | Doctor, life coach & interior designer

I’m Kricia Palmer, and I help women physicians let go of clutter and create beautiful, clutter-resistant homes so they can feel more peace, get more rest and be more focused.

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