We do not always need to justify or declare our 50 million reasons why we choose to say no. When you justify, who are you justifying to? I don’t believe we owe an explanation for our preferences. Simply “No”, or “No Thank you,” more politely, is a perfectly appropriate response.
It is in the justification that things start to go awry. It can send the message that there is room for negotiation, providing the requesting party can come up with a way around your reason or a bigger why they think you should do it. If they are really sneaky they will try to come up with all the things that are in it for you. Its like a Jedi mind trick. Before you know it you think being overcommitted is a great idea.
To put it simply, you don’t always have to have a reason to decline a request.
We have been conditioned that saying “yes” is the key to achievement. As a result our modern culture experiences a pandemic of stress and overwhelm. The difference between people who are enjoying this journey we call life and those who are caught in the choke hold of stress and overwhelm is not the people who say ‘yes’, but those who are willing to unapologetically say ‘no’.
‘No’ is a very powerful word. If we look back, saying “NO” is nothing new for us. When we were tiny we were quite adept at saying no and we didn’t feel a bit bad about it. Once we thought we didn’t have to do everything someone told us to, we felt liberated and autonomous. When we learned to say it, we wanted to say it ALL. THE. TIME! Any one who has children or spends time with small children will tell you, it is their favorite word once they discover it….at least until adults train them out of it.
It is inconvenient for adults when children say no and sometimes even dangerous. So as a result we were overridden and sometimes shamed into considering others people’s feelings before our own. We were taught that it is bad and we were being selfish and over time“No” began to lose it potency. We learned to do what we were told and put others feelings before our own to feel safe accepted and cared for and to avoid shame and guilt.
As adults we now have the knowledge, power and choice to say Yes or No in any given situation.
The Dangers of Yes: We have more things available to us than ever before. ‘Yes’ becomes so easy. It often dupes us into thinking it is the path of least resistance. Literally anything is possible. On top of this we make a huge number of daily choices as well: what to eat, what to wear, how long to work for, what we want to do what we need to do. Is it any wonder that we are in a state of constant overwhelm!?!? There are so many choices and ’to dos’ it is stressing us out! Life is a proverbial cornucopia.
Sometimes we believe that when we say yes to one thing we are automatically saying no to another. If you say ‘yes’ to staying at work late you are automatically saying ‘no’ to family or ‘me’ time. If we say ‘yes’ to going out every night and spending time with friends we say ‘no’ to being well rested and the opportunity to show up fully as the best version of ourselves the next day. In this busy modern world there will always be more available to do than time to do it. When we say ‘no’ it frees us up to say ‘yes’ fully to something else….things that matter more.
How do you decide what those thing are?:
- Figuring out the vision for your life, and establish your goals
- Decide what really matters to you – what are your values?
- Trust your intuition- tap in and tune in
- Noticing and paying attention to your feelings and needs – self-care!
- Taking a more balanced approach to your lives – work and life, family and self.
How do we know when to say no?
It is about being clear. It is critical to your success. When you know your vision and goals, the things that are deeply important to you, then you have a better grasp on what you need to say no to. You can use this vision as a compass. Until you have this clarity, you will say yes to everything and end up in the overwhelm trap and Guilt may serve as your jailor.
Figure out what really matters. Ask yourself questions when an opportunity comes up. ‘Is this in alignment with who I am and what I want from life?” When you begin saying ‘Yes’ ONLY to things that are enriching and add to your life and say ‘No’ to the things that siphon away our good energy reserves and move us away from our goals—your life shifts in the direction of personal and professional joy and fulfillment.
Some questions I ask myself:
Will small children be harmed if I say no?…this is a fail safe, I can almost ALWAYS say no to this one and it allows me to start out with one ‘no’. 🙂
What happens if I do say yes?
What happens if I don’t?
How does it affect the quality of my big picture chosen experiences?
What is the return on Investment (ROI)…factoring in energy and satisfaction?
‘No’ allows you the opportunity to say yes to things that matter most and move the needle in the direction of your most fulfilled experience. The boundary that ‘no’ creates is not a prison but rather a structure that gives us a solid platform to create experiences in our life that lead to both personal and professional fulfillment. It sounds a bit like a paradox, “say no so you can fully say yes”. The truth is it is our ticket to the freedom from overwhelm that we all want.
When the going gets tough, channel your inner toddler. 🙂