just say NO
Lately, I've had the good fortune of spending time with my adorable nieces and nephews. One such nephew, baby Abe, at about 18-months-old is learning the power and the fun of saying the word 'no.'
The thing about little Abe, is he doesn’t just say a casual or gentle ‘no’ here and there, but, he purses his lips, furrows his brow, and focuses intensely as he lobs an emphatic “NO” at the ask in question. Sometimes this conversation can be a bit soul-crushing like when I ask, “Abe, do you want to give Auntie Joanna a hug?” --- “No!.” Or, “do you want me to sing you the Itsy Bitsy Spider” –- (a silent ‘hell’) “NOOOO!”
But all 18-month-old development jokes aside, this abundance of ‘no’ has really got me thinking about the word. About its power. Its finality. There is no gray area in ‘no’. There isn’t a sense of wishy washy, “I’ll get back to you later about that” but a solid, you-now-know-where-I-stand-with-this-matter declaration.
'No' has historically been a difficult word for me to say. I have been someone willing to bend-over-backwards, to help others I care about (and even some I don’t) and completely compromise my own wellness, desires, and schedule for fear of saying no. But times are a-changing. After going too far in one direction, I’m finally realizing that a life of nos is actually a life of saying yes to the things I really care about, and actually have the time, space, or energy for.
How does that work? Every time you say 'no' you make space somewhere – in your schedule, in your mind, in your to-do list - somewhere in your life. Making space is like a placeholder for another and potentially more fulfilling or rejuvenating option to come along.
When I speak the word ‘no’ from a place of alignment with myself it can be unbelievably refreshing. It doesn’t always have to feel super intense or even come across as mean (it can of course be forceful when necessary), but more often for me it’s a simple, direct, and self-preserving ‘nope.’ No need for copious apologies or explanations.
Here are a few ways I’m saying ‘no’ lately. As with many things, practice makes perfect.
- No. I am not interested.
- No thanks. I appreciate the ask though.
- Hell. no.
- No, I just can’t commit to that right now.
- No, I have some other obligations I need to tend to instead.
- As if?! (just kidding, but really, I miss Clueless sometimes).
- No, I’m sorry but I can’t help you.
- No, I am devoting some time to slow down and take care of myself so I can’t.
- No, I am creating more space in my schedule these days so that won’t work.
I hope these musings bring you inspiration to better align with your needs and your highest self.
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