“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.” – Steve Jobs
Have you ever been asked to do something and in the heat of the moment you say yes – only to feel the anxiety that follows?
One of the most important things we can do for ourselves is to learn to say NO. As a people pleaser myself, I’ve struggled with this my entire life. I also see this showing up with many clients which tells me that this is a universal challenge.
It’s not easy saying NO. We naturally don’t want to hurt or disappoint people in our lives. Yet what I’ve learned over the years is that every yes to someone or something means a no to someone or something else – usually that no is to myself. It’s amazing how easily we disappoint ourselves or the people we love most, in order to make sure we don’t disappoint others.
Here are 6 things to keep in mind when saying NO –
- Learn to reframe your NO as a YES. For instance; I’m saying no to attending this event because I’m choosing to say yes to myself and my needs. Gay Hendricks, in his book The Big Leap, calls this an «enlightened no ».
- Be willing to be ok with disappointing other people. Yikes. I know. It’s not easy. But as mentioned earlier, you are either disappointing someone else or disappointing yourself.
- Remember that NO is a complete sentence. Let go of the need to explain or justify your decision further. However as a side note – sharing why you are saying no when it comes from a genuine place often gives the other person permission to do the same in their own life. People aren’t used to genuine reasons versus the usual – “I’m too busy”. By being fully honest with someone, you just might help them realize that they also have the power to say no. I like to think of it as “paying it forward”.
- Saying NO is a way to protect your precious energy. Think of yourself as a container of energy. The activities you do, your environment and the people surrounding you are either fueling or draining your energy. It’s your responsibility to protect and keep your container nice and full. There are some activities that are essential to your life but mostly draining. When you begin to really pay attention to the activities that you do and their impact on your energy, you realize how important it is to say yes to what fills up your container. Pay attention to what you need and honour your precious energy. I am currently doing a social media detox as I write this and I am truly realizing how much time & energy I am gaining back from saying NO to this habit. More on this in a future post!
- Be clear on what is truly important to you. Saying yes to what doesn’t really matter is often a way to avoid what is most important to your soul. When you practice self-awareness and learn to be real with yourself, you have an opportunity to be more intentional with your commitments. Ask yourself if this yes is moving you toward where you want to go or away from it. The quote from Steve Jobs speaks to this beautifully.
- Always come from a place of love. Practice saying NO from your heart. A great practice is to visualize surrounding the person you are saying no to with an energy of love. Then trust that all will be well and for the highest good of all.
In time it becomes easier to say no because you are becoming stronger in the process. You are choosing to honour and value yourself above all else.
So tell me, what are you going to say NO to in order to say YES TO YOURSELF?!✨