Have you ever wondered what would happen in your life if you told everyone No? Your spouse, boss, kids, friends, co-workers, potential partners, random people. Just No. I choose No in this moment.
Take it one step further, what if you did not feel the need to excuse that No. Not spending the energy to find a reason that makes sense to the other person. But either saying No or stating the absolute truth (in cases where the circumstances warrant it), even if it is not a reason that they choose to find valid.
Think about the power you would gain for yourself if you allowed yourself to say No to things you don’t want, without feeling the guilt that pushes you to make an excuse.
Here are some ways that No could improve your life:
- People will know what you really want.
- You won’t spend emotional energy trying to find a pleasing reason for what you really want, and that energy can be used elsewhere.
- You get to know what others are like when you say No. Do they support you? Do they call you names? Do they whine and try to push you around?
- You get to say Yes. Consider this, unless you can really say No, you cannot really say Yes. It’s not a choice if you don’t really get to choose. The power of having the choice to say Yes or No is life changing and worth the anxiety of stepping up to that choice.
- The more you say No, the easier it becomes. At first it might be awkward, especially in situations where you think you could never say No (your parents, your spouse, your boss). However, like any skill you’ll improve with time. It will change who you are and get easier. People will learn to expect you to say what you want.
- Your relationships will change. It’s hard to stay in a toxic relationship once you fully realize the ability to say Yes or No to every part of that relationship, and you exercise that power. It’s easier to have healthy relationships when you represent your wants honestly, and when you choose people who respect your right to do so.
- By your example, you will change other’s lives. People will surprise you by stepping up when you had no idea they were even paying attention.
Every situation and relationship deserves its own consideration and respect. Saying No to a relative stranger who wants to take you to dinner can just be, “No.” You can say “No Thank You,” if you feel like being polite. You definitely do not have to excuse your choice by making up that you are busy that night.
However, when working within a valued relationship, for example, a valued friend, more communication is certainly warranted. But it again does not need to be an excuse — make it the real reason. These and any other actual truths are all valid: I’m feeling lazy. I’d rather take a walk. I’d rather go tomorrow night. I’m broke and I don’t want to spend any money right now. I love you and want to spend time with you, but I’m on a diet and I don’t want the temptation of a fancy dinner. No thank you, I just don’t want to leave the house.
It can also be Yes, I don’t feel like going to dinner, but I really would love to spend some time with you so I’m going anyway. Once you have the power to say No, remember, it is still powerful to say Yes. It’s really the power of choice, and knowing that you are the one doing the choosing for yourself.
It should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway. You can even say No to this post.
I do feel like I’ve over-simplified the issue here, but I’m OK with that. My goal is not to fix life with a two-page write-up. I would like to invite you, however, to consider some of what I have said and do your own experiments with saying No.
I would love to hear thoughts and experiences here!