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Updated: May 17, 2022

“We have two open shifts tomorrow. You are not scheduled so I am asking you to pick this up extra. We are desperately short, so ANY help is so appreciated!!”

“Grrrrrrr and I am already so exhausted from work do they think I am superhuman?!” along with a flood of aggravation and guilt used to be my immediate response to messages of this nature. The guilt. Oh my the guilt that would come.

My values shifted awhile ago and, for the most part, picking up extra shifts is no longer consistent with my values (see the one exception below). So, I had to learn how to say no to the repeated asks, how to handle the guilt, how to stay clear on where my responsibilities end and the hospital’s responsibilities begin, and how to say “No” over and over and over and over again.

How to handle the guilt: A personal boundary or rule I have recently set for myself is that I do not act out of guilt. Once I set this boundary with myself I saw all over the place where I was frequently acting out of guilt at home and at work. Now instead of acting out of guilt, I feel the feeling, I acknowledge it, and get curious about what is behind it. A recurring theme is coming up for me on what is behind my guilt–a lack of clarity of where I end and others and their responsibilities begin. The more I practice mindfulness around where I end and others being the less guilt I am feeling. Related to the example of working extra shifts I feel guilty that the hospital is short staffed. But, with reflection I am able to see that I am responsible to work the shifts and schedule I agreed to when I was hired and it then becomes the hospital’s responsibility to solve their problem of any remaining open shifts.

Three quick and easy ways to say, “No,” over and over and over again:

  1. Thank you for letting me know these shifts are open. I am not available to cover them.

  2. It doesn't work for me to cover these shifts.

  3. No (because “No” is absolutely a complete sentence). An example of how to use this sentence:

“Can you work extra tomorrow?”


I don’t always say no. Sometimes, the shift they need to cover works better for me to work than the shifts I am scheduled for. So I will offer the phrase, “If you can switch me off such and such a date then I can cover this day for you!” This gives them an offer of my help while practicing compassion for myself and honoring my values and boundaries around my work.

Whatever you do, do not explain your no. This only weakens your boundary and is relying on the other party to value your explanation of not being available to cover the shift more than their need to have it covered. This is something that females and nurses love to do. Resist the urge! Step away from sharing your long explanation and let your, “No” establish the respect deserve.


Do you want to spend a week letting your heart go wild and learning all about how to set and keep boundaries!? Join us on retreat! Listen to Caitlyn share how she left the Mooxli retreat with a suitcase full of boundaries and clarity.


How you can feel and live when having healthy boundaries:

(from pg. 12 of Set Boundaries Find Peace)

  • Being clear about your values

  • Listening to your own opinions

  • Sharing with others appropriately

  • Having a healthy vulnerability with people who’ve earned your trust

  • Being comfortable saying no

  • Being comfortable hearing no without taking it personally

Join the Mooxli bookclub as we read Nedra Glover Tawwab's book: "Set Boundaries, Find Peace: A guide to reclaiming yourself" to Move your mindset, oxygenate your soul, and live differently related to boundaries!


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