I want to talk to you today about the pure, unadulterated joy of saying, “NO.” Because, ultimately, we say “no” so we can start saying “yes” to all the right things.
Now, I’m sure saying “no” is something that you are familiar with. But yet, we as women still say “yes” to way too many things. Now, don’t get me wrong…I’m all about Shonda Rhimes’ “Year of Yes,” and all the great things that come with opening your life up to abundance. But in order to get to the yeses that really matter, we have got to start saying no more often.
So I ask you…what are the things that you should be saying no to, and why aren’t you saying no to them? What is saying yes costing you?
Let’s talk about it!
Why I Started Saying No
I used to say yes to so much. Once upon a time, I was working 20 hours a day. No, that’s not a typo! Not only was I working crazy hours, I also had way too much of a personal life because I was saying yes to everything and everyone at all times. I had to stop and think, “Why am I saying so much to so many people about so many things?” At the time, I was committed to my stories…“Oh, but people need me. This is important. I can do it. I want to do it. I want to help. I want to do all of those great things.” But what’s the truth about why we are really saying yes? When I started diving deep on that, I realized I didn’t know any better. I thought, “Isn’t that what you’re supposed to do?” I was trained that you’re supposed to say yes, so I said, yes. But I was fragmented. I was living life where I was pulled in 1000 different directions, and I could only ever bring a small “piece” of me to the world, so I was bringing small fragments of myself to work, to my family, to friends, and to my community.
When I started saying “no” to all of those little pieces, I could start saying yes to a bigger, fuller, aligned Zuri, who gets to bring her whole self wherever I am, whatever is happening…because I’m not pulled off and knowing there’s something else that has to get done.
Are You Conditioned to Say Yes?
I think we say yes to the things we have no business saying yes to, because we’re conditioned to say yes. If people ask things of us or want certain things from us, we believe we should say yes, no matter what. There’s an expectation to say yes. We actually wind up coming into these unconscious agreements where people think it’s okay to ask us things because they know we're going to say yes.
We need to start saying “no” more often to the things that don’t matter - the things that are out of alignment for us, the things that we don’t actually want to do - so that we can actually come into alignment and say yes to the things that we value.
What Am I Getting Out of Saying Yes?
Ask yourself, ”What am I getting out of this?” When we do the things that we don’t actually want to be doing, that means we are still getting something out of it, even when it’s costing us a terrible price. For me, it was about feeling important. I thought, “Oh, wow… all of these people need me. That means I must be special. I must be important. I must be valuable. I must be worthy of love, worthy of being liked…” all of those things that at a deeper level, I really wanted. I was trying to get a sense of worthiness from doing the external things. In a way, I was almost trying to buy my worth and my love through my yeses, and that is a slippery, dangerous and addictive slope. Because when we’re the ones who saved the day, we get a high, even if the action stresses us out and exhausts us. But are you getting these false highs from things that really should be coming from inside, from our own internal worthiness, from our own internal knowing that we can love ourselves more than anyone else?
If you are not saying “no” when you know you should be, what are you getting out of that? It’s time to think, “Okay, great. Let me figure out how I can get that authentically, because then it will become much easier to say no.”
What Are You Afraid Of?
Sometimes we want to say no, but we say yes because we don’t want to deal with the situation. We are afraid our no is going to hurt the other people’s feelings and we’re afraid of what they are going to think or do if we can’t jump in and help. However, instead of worrying about what they are going to do, check in with yourself and see if it feels in alignment with you. If you’re concerned this may negatively respond, ask yourself, “Well, what’s the gift of what they can get out of this? Is this their opportunity to learn to level up? Is this their opportunity to learn to manage time? Is this their opportunity for me to learn to delegate to somebody else?” We’re so worried about the bad things that are happening, we aren’t thinking about what is the missed opportunity that I am either robbing myself or someone else of by saying no. So, the no we say is so potent, because you actually give yourself and that other person a chance to level up, shift, change, see things in a new way, etc.
Listen Up, Parents…
The concept of saying no even goes for the little ones! Whether you are parents, guardians, or caretakers…of course there’s a whole bunch of stuff you gotta say yes to. But make sure those “yeses” are in alignment! When you say yes, ask yourself, “Is this becoming codependent? Is this becoming spoiling? Am I saying yes because I just don’t want to deal with the response to no?”
With our words, we train everyone - our kids, our spouses, our partners, our friends, our co-workers - how to interact with us. We teach them what is okay and what is not okay. Every time you say no to something, and you can say it with love, you are teaching them where your boundaries are.
When No Doesn’t Go Well
And let’s be honest…sometimes saying no is not going to go over well, because the person you’re saying no to is used to you saying yes. But think about this - if it doesn’t go well the first time, use that as your strength. All it means is, “Oh, there’s a retraining that has to happen right now, because I’ve trained them that it’s okay that I’m always gonna say yes.” Let it be okay if it doesn’t go over well, and know that next time, the more you say no the better it will get. The more you draw and defend your boundaries, the more people will adhere to them.
When we say no, it’s not about just saying “no” to everything. It’s about saying “no” to the things that aren’t in alignment with who we are, with our values, our priorities, and how we want to live our biggest and best selves. So often, we say yes to all these little details, we can no longer say yes to the bigger things.
When we say “no” to the things that don’t matter, it allows you to say “yes” to the things that do matter.
Your “no” will allow you to tap into a whole different level of power, and to be able to tap into a whole different level of joy that you can have and create for yourself.
So, let me hear from you. What are the things that you need to be saying “no” to so you can make some room for your big “yeses”?
Sending you big love, and here’s to lots of future no’s!