We all hate to hear the word No. In fact some of us hate it so much that we can’t even say it. Instead, we say Yes and then regret it later. We tell ourselves that “next time will be different.: Or, we “just got to get through this and then it’ll be fine.” Or worse…”people won’t like me if I say No.”
Toddlers have zero trouble with saying No. They latch on to it and say it over and over again. As teenagers we have zero trouble telling our parents No. But somewhere post the terrible two’s and puberty we lose our ability to mouth the word out loud.
Sure, we say it in our brain. We say it to ourselves. We tell ourselves no so much that we do anything for everyone and almost nothing for ourselves. Then we are left feeling battered, beat and lost.
As a Pilates instructor I typically only make money when I say yes to teaching a client. Anytime I say no or “I can’t” (a no phrase), I am basically saying no to money–That’s a pretty powerful no! When I first became and instructor I would say “yes” a lot. I was teaching super early in the morning. I was teaching late at night. I had a schedule that looked like a block of swiss cheese. That lasted about a few weeks maybe a month until I realized that if I wanted to continue my dreams as an instructor, Rock my bliss, I had to start exercising my no muscle.
I was listening to an episode of Danielle Laporte and Linda Sivertsen‘s podcast. They were interviewing an author. She talked about saying no. In fact she said “No, is a muscle.” In my brain as soon as I hear muscle I think 1) You must work it out to strengthen it 2) You must use it! Because if you don’t use it you lose it. The “it” in that sentence is you, and your desires.
Danielle and Linda asked her how she strengthened her No muscle. Her response was something we all can relate to. She was afraid to say no because she was afraid people wouldn’t like her. When asked what happened when she said no, she responded “people were upset and didn’t like it.” Then she said, what I think is the most important benefit of a strong No muscle: “By saying no to them I had more time to do the things that were important to me.” When you say no to something or someone you are leaving a space, time and energy to say Yes to YOU!
We don’t have endless hours in a day. We don’t have endless energies. I am not saying practice saying no to any request that comes your way. However, it’s time to dust that word off. Practice in front of a mirror if you have to.
- Is this request taking time away from my dreams?
- Will this task teach me something that is in line with my desires?
- Am I truly helping them by doing this for them? Or, would it be better if they asked someone else who truly cared about their desires as much as they do?
- Will I regret saying Yes?
You don’t have to just say No and run away. You can say “I cannot do ____ but try so and so or such and such. I think you’ll see that’s a better match.” In life, you will have to say no from time to time. Make sure that you’re not saying No to the person who matters most: YOU.
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