I never knew how much I would grow to appreciate that one, little word that packs such a punch:
No is a complete sentence, as my mentor reminds me. It doesn’t require qualifying language, a predicate or noun to surround it. It’s clear and concise. It explains the most important piece of information needed in any given situation where it is relevant. It’s perfectly complete with just two letters strung together.
No. [Add ‘thank you’ if you feel extra generous.]
I’ve come to the end of my people-pleasing days and let me tell you it’s liberating. Three decades of living to make other people happy (which actually never worked) has gone on long enough.
Here I am stating for you and all of the Universe to hear: I release the need to qualify why I say no.
It’s no one's business, frankly, and my resources of time and energy are far too precious to spend going around qualifying and explaining the reason behind my no. That, in some cases, would be me hiding and checking the temperature of emotional waters before jumping in. It would be as though I am asking for permission to feel valid in my answer. That behavior is based in people-pleasing because I want to make sure they feel okay about my answer instead of being confident that I'm okay not needing to explain myself. I have my answer and that's enough.
My god, how many hours I have wasted away with worry about what other people think.
I’ve violated my own values, my gut, my heart so many times that I think for a period of time I forgot I had my own will and desires and needs and wants that were important to listen to. Who’s life am I living, though? Mine. What do I want for it? Lots. Making room for what I want for myself necessitates saying no to things that don't contribute to my values or the rhythm of my life.
I know, saying no can be scary. Perhaps people will be mad with you. But what is the worst that can happen?
An individual asked if I would speak at an event that same day. I said no. They accused me of being selfish and uncommitted to the cause for the event and to them personally. What they didn’t know was I was on couch-rest and heavy medication for a back injury from a few days before.
My answer was not personal to that person, it was personal to me. The reason was irrelevant. We tend to take “no” personally yet it is never personal (read The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz). Often we have no idea what someone is going through or why something doesn’t work for them when we want it to work for us. The thing is we don’t need to know. It’s not about us. Let it be. Accept it and don’t waste emotional energy on mulling it over. You have much better things to do with your time.
Could I have explained myself to the invitee? Sure. However, explaining myself would have been a way I could provide an excuse. Sometimes saying no without qualifying it and then sitting in discomfort is one of the best ways to grow because it forces us to get comfortable with ourselves.
What I share with my clients is this: “The most important person in any equation is you.” If you’re involved and say yes, make sure it’s something you want to be known by, stand by and give yourself to. If you don't have time, you don't. If you don't have the energy, you don't. If there is any part of your gut that says, “Mehhhh... eeeehhh...” don’t do it. Just don’t. Sit in the discomfort of taking care of yourself instead of spending energy in places that don't align with you. It will eventually start to feel normal an greater self esteem will emerge.