We often hear that one of the keys to living a positive life is saying to things more often: Yes to adventures, yes to new opportunities, yes to new relationships etc. And it is true, the more we say yes to things, the more we say yes to new experiences that could make our lives more dynamic and colourful. Our yeses help us grow, but guess what? So do our nos.
“No” is one of my favourite words in the human lexicon. In whatever language it’s said, it’s succinct, clear and an entire sentence on its own. It’s the perfect boundary setter and clear boundaries are instrumental to positive living.
I’ll let you in on a maybe-not-so-secret secret: Setting my boundaries by saying no hasn’t always been a strong suit. Although I wouldn’t say that I was the archetypal people-pleaser and I never really had too much of a problem saying my piece, saying no was no easy task.
If you had a problem you wanted to text me about even though I wanted to be left alone? I would have probably answered the message. Wanted to ask me a question I felt was a bit too personal or annoying? I’d have probably budged and answered it to keep the conversation moving. Needed me to help you while on a break? Ugh, alright, 10 minutes wouldn’t kill me. Lots of things were allowed to just slide.
I was capable of standing my ground and refusing to do those things, but I didn’t really like conflict and I felt it more comfortable not to. After all, I wasn’t saying yes to things that deeply encroached upon my values or violated my autonomy, so it didn’t seem like too much of a problem.
But it was a problem and it is for you too.
When we don’t say no when we really want to, we are telling ourselves that our needs are secondary and that we’re not worthy of having them met. Denying our own needs and ultimately, our own wellbeing to keep a “positive” atmosphere isn’t positive at all. It actually paves the way to very negative things like resentment and a lack of respect for you and yes, your boundaries.
If it’s hard to say no to the seemingly benign stuff, saying no bigger things that have worse consequences for you can be a lot harder, so you just have to start saying it. As with most things, it does get easier the more you do it.
You might have to ruffle a few feathers and you may cause a bit of friction too, but so what? We won’t always get the green light to do what we need, but we still need to get going anyway. The right people/situations will always be forgiving, even if it takes time. You will be happier and feel more positive in the long run. You will also live your life on your terms more than anyone else’s. That’s growth worth going through, too.
For the right people/situations in your life, compromise does have its place. Sometimes it’s your turn, but other times it isn’t and you can make that clear. Saying no is a fine way to do just that.
Saying no is a fine way to do a lot of things.
Do you find it hard to say no? What tips do you have to make saying no easier? Share them in the comments!