Do you have a hard time saying no? Do you end up giving in to a friend’s request even if it means putting your wishes and desires on hold? I believe it’s especially hard for those of us raised to be “nice” to put ourselves first. When I’ve broached this subject with clients, they often say, “I don’t feel comfortable saying no to a friend. Isn’t it the height of selfishness to say no?”
My answer to them is this: “Before you say no, find your yes.” Every opportunity is a choice; saying no to one thing allows you to say yes to something else − something that you’d prefer to do or something more important to you in the long run.
But first you have to know what your priorities are. If you’ve done some goal setting over the last month or two, then you are almost there. If not, here’s a short exercise in finding your priorities.
Close your eyes and imagine that you had a magic wand allowing you to add 5 hours to every day. How would you fill those five hours?
You might choose to spend some of that extra time playing with your kids or talking with the people closest to you. Maybe you would take an art class or find time to do tai chi or yoga. Maybe you would take a walk every morning in the park or sit down with your favorite cup of tea and a good book in the evenings. Or maybe you would spend this extra time asleep!
However you’ve chosen to spend these imaginary five hours, they are your “yesses”, your priorities, the things you are missing out on right now. These are the activities that we want to add to our day and until those imaginary five extra hours actually appear we will have to make hard choices – often.
Before you are caught saying yes when you want to say no, pause and think of your priorities. Give yourself permission to say no with clarity and grace. You don’t have to explain, you just have to open your mouth and utter the one word, “No”. That’s all. You can do it gently and with a smile, knowing that you are saying yes to living life the way you want to live it.
Removing the energy blocks from your voice and throat will help too. As you say “no”, imagine the words flowing out of your throat in crystal-clear color, surrounded by warmth, honesty, and clarity. Saying no with clarity and gentleness allows you to stand in your own power.
Practice saying no. Write about your experiences. Validate your clarity, your strength, and the compassion you hold for yourself. Make your “no” stick. Make it permanent. Make it definitive. Come from your heart and mean it. No going back.
A well-known proverb says, “All the flowers of all the tomorrows are in the seeds of today.” Weeding out the activities and shoulds that are not in alignment with your priorities will allow you room to breathe. To think. To listen. To be present in the now.
So practice saying “no”. Practice standing in your own power and not leaking it to someone else. Know that as you prune back to the essentials—to the activities that are in alignment with your internal wisdom—you will blossom. Make room in your life for you.