I bet most people think of the word NO as being restrictive, as shutting something down or blocking something out. Well, I’m here to tell you how the art of saying NO allows you to say YES to your best life.
Basically, what we’re talking about here are boundaries, with friends, with work, and even with yourself.
No matter the time of year, life is busy! Between work, family time, social expectations, and just all of the things, sometimes it feels like so much is ‘required’ of you. But is that really true?
What if you reminded yourself that you had a choice, if you paused and checked in properly to see what you would actually like to say yes to?
Give yourself permission to say NO. Say it to yourself now: ‘Self — you have permission to say NO!’
Remember, NO is a full sentence. There is no need to say anything else, no need to explain yourself or make excuses. NO is all the answer required if you choose to decline an invitation or a request to work overtime.
Let’s start with using NO at work. With more people working from home now, it’s easy to lose boundaries when it comes to the difference between working time and resting time. Self-employed people can relate to this, too.
It used to be that work finished when you left the office (or wherever you work). But now, with the inter-webs, without that clear boundary between the workspace and the home, work can carry on into the evening.
It’s easy to think that, cos you’re at home, you can do the work whenever, but without healthy habits and boundaries around it, you can end up experiencing Parkinson’s Law the wrong way around.
What the heck is Parkinson’s Law, you ask?
According to Wikipedia, ‘Parkinson’s law is the adage that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.’
What this means is that if you allow yourself to work all day and all night, you’ll find work to fill that time. But if you set a boundary for your time, as in ‘I will work during these hours,’ you will find that, most likely, the tasks you need to accomplish will match the time you set aside.
By saying NO and creating clear boundaries when you catch yourself feeling the need to work late, you’re allowing yourself to say YES to being well-rested and ready for work (in the allotted time) the next day.
Outside of work, if you find your mind ‘buffering’, like a computer with too many tabs open, then most likely you’ve been saying YES too much, rather than NO! Learning the art of NO is more about learning yourself than anything else. Once you know yourself and your boundaries, it’s easier to use the N-O word, without fear or pain.
Now, one of the hardest ways to say NO is trying to say NO to your friends when they want to make plans. They can unintentionally make you feel guilty if you want to decline invitations, or you can make your own self feel bad about wanting to stay home and rest. Listen to Self (your inner voice), who will always offer you the best guidance. Allow yourself to say YES to Self when you desire and NO to others when you need to.
Saying YES all the time and piling everything onto yourself can bring up stress and agitation. And it’s common for that agitation to end up in arguments with family and friends.
Sometimes, this means saying NO to yourself when you feel the need to argue. While speaking your truth and standing up for what you believe in is always a good thing, in reality, sometimes there is honestly no point.
The art of saying NO is about choosing how to spend your emotions. And arguing is an emotional outlet — are your emotions best spent this way? You’re only going to stress yourself out by arguing about Brexit with Aunt Karen over the dinner table if she’s set in her ways.
Sometimes, the wisest course of action is to say NO to getting involved in arguments, and YES to more meaningful connection and, when possible, adult discussion, free from aggression.
One of my subscribers emailed me to say one of their favourite sayings is, ‘NO is not a four-letter word!’ This is an important reminder that NO is NOT a bad word. You’re allowed to say it when you want.
And finally, I’d like you to think about saying NO to yourself.
Meaning, saying NO to the voice of self-doubt that can sometimes creep in.
NO can also be a cease-and-desist order to no longer attack yourself. YES to kindness. YES to gratitude for all the qualities you love about yourself and the ones you are developing. Kindness on the inside is always a good thing.
YES to Self, but NO to self-deprecation and self-deception.
NO to self-loathing, YES to self-love.