The Power of “NO”

Unreservedly saying yes to others and failing to establish good boundaries often means that we’re saying no to our own wants and needs.  We’re not acting on our own behalf, and we suffer every time we abandon ourselves in this way.I was a great yes person.  I was conditioned, as many of us were, by my family and culture to take care of others, put their needs before my own, and to always be generous and kind.  I was taught that my needs, especially if they were contrary to what was expected of me, weren’t very important and, in fact, that I was selfish if I said yes to myself and no to others.

Because children require love and acceptance as much as they need food, safety, and shelter, they ultimately abandon their own desires and needs, at least to some extent, in order to be loved.  Then, as adults, when we’re faced with situations where we have to decide whether or not to say yes or no to others’ needs or demands, we often automatically choose what is familiar, and what we hope will avoid conflict.  We aim to please.  Saying no can definitely disrupt the status quo, and make others uncomfortable.  It may seem much easier to just go along with what’s expected of us.  The cost is great, though.

What happens if we continue to be yes people?  We’re tired, often drained, because we’re overextended.  We are literally giving ourselves away.  When it comes to time, we’ve filled our days with many tasks that we really didn’t want to say yes to, and we end up with little time for self-care.  We may be resentful of the people who placed demands on us or self-critical because we didn’t take a stand for ourselves.  We feel disconnected because we’re not congruent; our actions are not aligned with the truth in our hearts.  When we’re not connected to ourselves, we’re not connected to others in healthy ways.

The benefits of saying no and setting limits are far-reaching.  We have more energy.  No longer depleted by agreeing to things that aren’t in our best interest, our life force and time become our own.  We experience more flow, that state of aliveness and well-being that you experience when you know you are on the right path.  People will respect you more because you are demonstrating self-respect by being true to yourself.  People with good boundaries exude self-confidence.  They know themselves and aren’t afraid to assert what they believe and what they want in all kinds of situations.  You will feel real.  No longer hiding behind a façade of niceness, people will trust you because you are authentic.

I love the word yes and, in fact, have a stone on my desk with a big YES! painted on it.  To me, that means Yes to life, to love, to inspiration, to that which is healthy and in integrity.  I have time in my life now for many yeses because I have learned to say no again and again.  It’s not easy; in fact, saying no can be quite difficult at first.  Like everything else, it gets easier, and the benefits far outweigh the temporary discomfort.