I’ve been struck recently by how much time we all spend doing things we don’t actually want to do.
And when I first began to work on myself, I used to think I needed to focus a lot on saying “yes” to things that scared me, to pushing myself beyond my current boundaries. While this was certainly true to a degree, I was missing a more subtle point that has a huge impact on our happiness, and that is our ability to say “no.”
I actually thought I was good at saying “no,” because I have an Inner Rebel who LIKES to say “no.” I thought I had no problem saying “no,” but I was wrong. I was good at saying it in a Big, Obvious “No!” kind of way. But what I wasn’t good at were things where I was currently saying “yes” and then being full of regret or complaint or indecision.
Here’s the kicker: I didn’t even see that I wasn’t good at saying “no” because I was currently saying “yes” to those things!
Here are some examples, and see if any of these resonate with you:
- Saying “yes” to a social event that you don’t really want to go to,
- Agreeing to meet someone for coffee or lunch, but then thinking about how you’d rather be doing something else,
- Helping a friend out because you think you “should,” not because you truly want to,
- Agreeing to call your mom/friend who just broke up with her boyfriend/[fill in the blank person] frequently because “that’s what you do,” not because you feel energized and happy at the end of the conversations,
- Eating cake at a birthday party even though you’ve decided to give up sugar, because it’s a birthday celebration, and that’s what you DO at birthday parties
Here’s the thing about these “Yes’s” that should really be “No’s”: sometimes they are hurting us in more ways than you can imagine! A weak “yes” is a very insidious thing. It’s sneaky.
Here’s why: it distracts us. It takes up our time, zaps our energy, and distracts us from doing what we REALLY want.
When you say “yes” to something you would rather say “no” to, you are saying to the Universe “I don’t really deserve what I want.” And that is a BIG DEAL.
Saying “yes” when we mean “no” allows our energy to be sucked into something we don’t believe in. When we do this, we’re preventing ourselves from letting our light truly shine, from writing that book we’ve secretly been wanting to write, or from recharging our battery by having a quiet night taking a bath and reading a book after an exhausting day or week.
Why would we do this?
Because we’re afraid. We’re afraid of how truly powerful we are. We’re afraid of what would happen if we wrote that book (what if it’s a failure!?) or if we said “no” to that party (will people be angry? What if I don’t have any friends?).
These are stories we tell ourselves to keep us stuck, to distract us from the TRUTH, which is that we can have anything we want and be anything we want. Most of us are too scared to admit it because that is a lot of power, and it comes with a lot of responsibility.
If I say “no” to going to that party, then I can’t complain about having to go and use that as an excuse for my own unhappiness. Suddenly, I’m responsible for my own happiness.
And that can feel scary at first. But it is SO worth it!
Here’s the key: When you start saying “no” to things, you CREATE SPACE for other things to come in. Things you REALLY WANT to do or to have in your life. And that is why this is so important and magical.
Saying “yes” to things that should really be “no” not only distracts you from what you want and tires you out, it takes up all the space in your life so there is no ROOM to say “yes” to what you REALLY WANT.
Sometimes, you need to say “no” before you can say “yes.”
Saying “no” makes room.
If you say “no” to that dinner party, you can have a quiet evening at home relaxing and recharging your battery….and maybe the next day you make better decisions because you feel more clear-headed and better-rested.
If you say “no” to calling your mom/friend/[fill in the blank] because you “should,” you can avoid unnecessary stress or negative energy, and use the boost in your mood to write the first chapter of that book or go on a walk in nature.
If you say “no” to eating the birthday cake, you can wake up the next day feeling better in your body with more energy to exercise.
The list goes on and on.
So I ask you, where are you currently saying “yes” when you REALLY mean “no”? Try saying “no” and see what happens. Notice the space you’ve created to call something else in.
And be sure to tell the Universe what it is you want instead! Otherwise you may end up swapping one “yes” that should be a “no” for another. Think about what you want to say “yes” to instead, and do that consciously. I guarantee the results will amaze you.
Have fun! And remember kids, just say “no.”