NO is a complete sentence

“When we have been prevented from learning to say no our bodies end up saying it for us” Gabor Mate

Saying No This last week I was asked to do something that I did not really have a desire to do. In addition, it was happening in the evening so I knew it would take away from time I could spend with my family. In the past I would have said yes. Now, as hard as it is for me, I am able to say “Thanks for thinking of me, but I am just not going to be able to do it”.

Why do we find it so hard to say no? It got me thinking how much precious time we lose when we say “yes” when we really want to say no. I think as women we generally tend to be “people pleasers”. We don’t want to let people down, we want to be there for people, so the tendency is to consistently say yes to things that we really don’t want to do. No can be really hard to say.

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Two year olds happen to go crazy with the word. My little man Nicholas, now 20 months old, has no problem saying no. In fact it is one of his favourite words. But as we get older, I think socialization consists of learning to say yes to all cultural demands, whether we want to or not. Take your age and subtract 2 and that is the number of years you have spent forcing yourself to say “yes” when your essential self really wanted to say “no”.

Saying yes when we really want to say no is stressful. Stress depresses the immune system and leaves us susceptible to all sorts of diseases. A lot of people with overly developed social selves (meaning they are really concerned with what everybody thinks) experience this type of stress sometimes for years without realizing it. When you’re heading to do something your essential self doesn’t agree with, your body will often let you know with actual physical symptoms. Any feeling of choked hostility or numb depression or nauseated helplessness is usually a sure sign that you are steering away from what you really want and saying yes to something that doesn’t work for you at all. So take the time to listen to yourself. Feel it in your body. You will know if it is something you should really be doing or not. Listen to the cues from your body and only say yes to things you really really want to do. Remember NO is a complete sentence.

Debbie Ford has written a great book called appropriately The Right Questions: Ten Essential Questions to Guide You to an Extraordinary Life. In the book she describes 10 key questions we should ask ourselves when making decisions in our lives. By authentically and honestly answering these questions we can make sure we are doing what is true to our values and moving us in the direction of our dreams. There were 4 questions I pulled out of the book that really resonate with me and help me to lead my best life. Before I say yes to something I ask the following:

1) Am I standing in my power or am I trying to please another?
2) Will this choice add to my life force or rob me of energy?
3) Does this choice empower or disempower me?
4) Is this an act of faith or an act of fear?

Next time you are deciding if a particular job, event, function or commitment is right for you, try asking yourself these four questions as a gut check. Remember we are where we are because of the decisions we make every day. Make sure your choices are leading you to a life you will love instead of a life others would love you to live.

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