In a world filled with opportunities, we may find that the word, “yes,” is a little too quick to leave our lips. We have a fear of missing out (FOMO) and we have been conditioned to never turn down chances for dread they may never surface. We have also become a society of over-exhausted, over-committed and terribly burnt-out people. Hence, we shall practice the art of saying, “no,” this No-Vember.
First and foremost, when being presented with an opportunity, take some time to think it through. Will I be satisfied with my answer five minutes from now? Five hours from now? Five days from now? Or even five weeks from now? If the answer is, “yes, yes, yes, and yes,” then this may truly be a “YES,” opportunity. If the answer is “no,” for even one of these, consider taking more time before responding. Josh Billings, an American Humorist said that, “Half of the troubles of this life can be traced to saying yes too quickly and not saying no soon enough,” and he’s not wrong. Take a moment to breathe and contemplate before saying yes or no, and if you aren’t sure, express it. Yet, if the answer is “no,” and you knew that the second you were asked, you knew it even after contemplating it, you have your answer.
Don’t be afraid to say “no.” The unrealistic fears that we envision in our own minds are often just that, unrealistic. Not to mention if you are saying “yes,” to things just because you fear the outcome, you are probably not living your best life! Author Stephanie Lahart said, “Let today mark a new beginning for you. Give yourself permission to say NO without feeling guilty, mean, or selfish. Anybody who gets upset or expects you to say yes all of the time clearly doesn’t have your best interests at heart. Always remember: You have a right to say no without having to explain yourself. Be at peace with your decisions.” No one, absolutely no one, can make it to every event, babysit at a moment’s notice or take on every whim of other people. Psychologist Bill Crawford says, “One key to successful relationships is learning to say no without guilt, so that you can say yes without resentment.” You have one chance at this life, perhaps today can be a fresh start of saying more “yeses” to you and more “no’s” to the things that don’t serve you well. No guilt, no regrets, just a simple, “no.” This is how we cannot only help ourselves but be better in our relationships as well.
We need to normalize the word “no.” No is a simple and effective way to share your boundary. When you are on the receiving end of “no,” hear it. The answer isn’t “maybe, or perhaps, its no!” For some, it’s just as hard to ask a favor from someone as it is to say the word no, but in respectful and meaningful relationships and workplaces, communication must be effective. Practice how you ask others for help and be prepared for them to say no. Also, practice how you respond to how others ask you for help. Sometimes it’s all in how we say something. Most of us would rather hear a pleasant no, than a snarky yes. Let’s all work on how we give and accept “no” in a way that doesn’t leave someone feeling wounded.
If you struggle with being indecisive you aren’t alone. Many people say yes to things because they are just unsure, and unfortunately, these can also be the people putting their own needs last. Take some time to get decisive about your own needs and commitments. This will help you to better respond to others. If you value your own time, health, and wellness, you will make it a point to make them a priority, which will sometimes mean saying no. If you value your family time, decide what your boundaries are for sharing that, or giving it away. If something is going to steal your joy, don’t let it, say “no.” Saying “no,” so you can prioritize your own needs to eat lunch, pick up your kids, take yoga or get enough sleep isn’t really anyone else’s business, you said, “no.” Now move on and do what you need to!
Lastly, Lori Deschene, who is the founder of Tiny Buddha, an online community that enables participants to share their experiences and insights to help themselves and others says, “You can be a good person with a kind heart and still say no.” There is a joke that adults love making plans but love it, even more, when those plans are canceled. Don’t let that be you! Stop saying “yes,” to things you really don’t have time for, don’t want to do or that won’t matter in five minutes, hours, days, or weeks. Reserve “yes,” for the things that matter! If it doesn’t matter, let it go. You can still be a kind, helpful, funny, loving, empathetic and attentive person and still say “no.” Try it! Happy No-Vember!