Why Saying "No" To Others Is Really Saying "Yes" To Ourselves

My name is Amanda and I am a recovering people pleaser“yes” person, and be everywhere / do everything gal. Saying “no” makes me feel kind of uncomfortable. Case in point: I recently made the conscious choice to say “no” to a seemingly simple request. Saying “yes” would have been the easy, people-pleaser thing to do, but I’ve been working really hard to become protective of my time and, based on my own criteria, the request was a “no”.

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Since I’m (always) being honest, I’ll admit that I didn’t handle the “no” very gracefully...I felt compelled to explain myself and when the other person wouldn’t take “no” for an answer... I snapped (eek). Losing my cool is a sure sign that I have some reflection to do (I know, I know; we’re all human, but I am human who has gotten freaking good at self-reflection and unpacking things that disrupt my good vibes).

Now, before I get started, I want to let you know...I know what you’re thinking; why don’t you just say “no” and be done with it? Isn’t reflecting on saying “no” just a greater waste of time? Well, when I write about something, it usually means it’s a theme that’s been coming up in my life in multiple ways. This means the theme has popped up beyond what I offer as examples; typically impacting others, too. When this topic came up, I realized that there were many people in my life who were struggling with when and how to say “no”. So, here are my top three reasons why saying“no” is really a way we say "yes" to ourselves:

Say “no” to protect your time.

My girl Oprah says, “The most important gift you can give yourself is time.” It’s true; how you choose to spend your time can make a huge impact on what you are able to achieve and how you feel. Even five minutes of time used mindfully can transform the trajectory of your day. When you get a request, invitation, or opportunity; ask yourself how much time the commitment will take. Will this activity require any pre- or post- work? Often, when we say “yes” we underestimate how much additional effort will go into making good on our promise. If something comes across your desk that will take more time than it’s worth, consider saying “no” to protect your most valuable resource.

This is not to say we should be selfish with our time, but rather mindful. In fact, I am of the belief that we should be generous with our time, but also conscious of spending time building relationships that provide the right energy. This brings me to my second reason we should say “no”...

Say “no” to protect your energy.

The energy we release and attract has a powerful effect on how we feel. A seemingly insignificant interaction with someone whose energy isn’t aligned with yours can continue to drain you even after the physical interaction is over. If this is sounding a little too woo-woo for you, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. How is my energy in the relationship with this person/this group? Is the relationship reciprocal, or is the giving one-sided?
  2. What is my intention? How would I like my actions to serve others? How would I like to feel? Is taking on this commitment aligned with those purposes or feelings?
  3. Will the energy I invest in this (be it a little or a lot) make me feel like I have been truly helpful? Will it make me feel restored, neutral, or depleted in some way?

Truth be told, we will often find ourselves taking on commitments to people or activities that are not aligned with the way we want to feel simply because saying “yes” is the easiest, less-confrontational path to choose. But is the diminished feeling of confrontation with others worth the sense of conflict we feel internally...I suggest it is not.

Say “no” so you can say “yes”.

It’s all come down to this. When we say “no” to the commitments which aren’t the highest use of our time and energy, we’re able to say a big, hearty “YES” to things that light us up, that excite us, that help us to grow. Every minute we gain back from saying “no” to something that doesn’t serve us is another minute we can devote to something that will help us serve others or better care for ourselves. It’s as simple as that.

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Saying “no” goes beyond commitments, individuals, friends, opportunities, or requests. This can also include saying “no” to behaviors or habits that steal your time or don’t align with the energy that you want to cultivate in your life (but that’s a post for another time). Regardless of the reason, saying “no” with the intention of protecting our time and protecting our energy so we can say “yes” to the things that best serve us in life is tremendously powerful and empowering. While it’s a practice that has challenged me personally, it is also one that has served me greatly; as I hope it serves you.