The Power of No


Raise your hand if you’ve said yes to something out of guilt, obligation, or fear of disappointing someone. “No” is a response that isn’t always easy to give, and the more we talk with people, we realize that it’s actually prevalent to struggle with that two-letter powerhouse of a word. Whether you learned not to trust your “no” from your parents, teachers, relatives, or peers, it can be difficult to break the cycle. But saying no is an important part of the boundary-making process, and boundaries create healthy, thriving relationships. 

Saying yes when you shouldn’t or don’t want to might be accommodating to the person you’re going out of your comfort zone for, but it’s ultimately a betrayal of self. Sometimes we get so hyper-focused on how others perceive us that we forget to nurture our most important relationship, the one with ourselves. That is where the power of no comes in. It’s all about learning to say no to others, so you can say yes to yourself.

Think of it this way; every time you say yes to someone at the expense of yourself, you’re building a relationship on quicksand. Actions create expectations, so if you’re a friend or family member who never says no, people begin to count on that, and you find yourself sinking deeper into the sand. 

Of course, it isn’t always easy to start flexing your “no” muscles. Many times we say yes because we’re afraid of the other person’s reaction. We create catastrophic scenarios in our heads, but most people are relatively neutral toward it in reality. The truth is that if someone is trying to make you feel guilty, they don’t respect your boundaries. That is a reflection of them, not you. Learning to say no is a communication skill, and the more you practice it, the easier it will become.

Respect and communication are the foundations of healthy relationships, both with others and ourselves. If you don’t respect yourself, you can’t expect others to respect you, and if you don’t communicate your needs and boundaries, you can’t expect them to read your mind. The act of choosing yourself and respectfully declining keeps your feet out of the quicksand and other people’s expectations of you in check. It helps you thrive, makes your relationships stronger, and is one of the highest ways to honor yourself. 

Don’t stress the reactions. As long as you come from a place of respect when you say no, people will respect your decision. And if they don’t, that’s on them. You are the only one who can decide how you live your life, so live it well and within the boundaries you have created. Take back your ability to say no with confidence, knowing you choose yourself a little bit more each time you do. 

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