How many times a day does the average two-year old say no? Whether refusing to eat vegetables or protesting bath time, toddlers have no problem speaking out against things they don’t want to do. As we grow up and are socialized into polite and obedient children, our contrary nature is curbed and we learn to acquiesce to others’ needs and desires. I can remember being a teenager, in many adolescent angst-ridden moments, yearning for the day I became an adult and no longer had to do things I didn’t want to do. I can’t wait to grow up so I can do what I want when I want! The “grown woman” in me chuckles at the naiveté of my younger self.
How many times did you say no today? Or perhaps more to the point, how many times did you say yes to something you didn’t want to do? Because it was inconvenient, bothered you, was uncomfortable, or just because you didn’t feel like doing it. Often we struggle with saying no because we either feel obligated or want others to see us in a positive light. We are taught that it is selfish to say no when we have the ability to say yes and that we should treat others how we want them to treat us. The truth is saying no is possibly the least selfish thing you can do.
When we do things out of obligation or with resistance, it is often from a place of resentment instead of love. Saying no allows us to recharge and fill up our reserve so that we can give from our overflow; it allows us to give without expectation of reciprocation. Putting ourselves first and saying no to things that do not serve us empowers others to do the same and many times, quite frankly, gives people permission to do things for themselves that they would otherwise depend on you to do. If you cannot say no, you can never say a full yes; the ability to say no gives meaning to your yes. Think of no as your personal gift to those you care about.
Does this mean that we should all become contentious and cantakerous and only agree to things that make us feel good? Of course not! What it does mean, however, is that when the answer is no, it should be without guilt. No does not require explanation or justification. No is a complete sentence. We should reserve yes for when we mean it and can fully understand the implications of yes. Our agreement should come from a place power and not pressure.
Today, I challenge you to say no to three things that do not serve you.
“But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’. Anything more is from the evil one.” — Matthew 5:37 (New King James Version)