Do You Feel Guilty When You Say No? Stop It and Be Happier.

Not All Sacrifices Are Worth It.

Mariko O. Gordon, CFA
2 min readFeb 19, 2022

The front desk had a simple request: would I move up my airport shuttle reservation by a half-hour and split the cost with another guest?

I’d already moved up my departure time by an extra hour (because, Costa Rica). 30 more minutes of waiting around was unappealing. I also dreaded a long car ride of stranger small talk. The savings weren’t worth it.

I said no, then felt terrible.

I was raised to accommodate others automatically. Pretty much any request should be granted, no questions asked. I struggle with the idea that my needs are equally valid as those of a stranger. But just because someone asks, doesn’t mean I have to say yes.

I felt like the world’s shittiest, most selfish person for saying no.

I’d inconvenienced and cost someone the full fare, when thwarting my desire would have been a small price to pay to ensure their happiness. I felt guilt gnawing at my insides all day.


This conditioning runs deep in my bones. It took everything I had to believe that my needs mattered too, and I wasn’t put on this planet just to bring ease to everyone else but me. But saying no made me want to barf.

Then, after all that drama, the stranger ended up sharing my cab.

Her flight was at the same time as mine! The earlier departure time was not critical. I had assumed that her reasons would be more “valid” than mine. They weren’t. Had I made the sacrifice, it would have been pointless.

How many times in my life have I sacrificed my desires for no good reason?

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Mariko O. Gordon, CFA

Built $2.5B money mgmt biz from scratch. Coaching badass women to build & love their businesses, manage their finances, and make sure the thrill is never gone.