This post is inspired by my exclusive interview with Whole Food Love, which will debut during a free event on Women’s Health & Wellness, featuring expert interviews from 25+ of the top sources in lifestyle advice. Listen in to this FREE event starting on May 11, 2015!
No is a very powerful word when it comes to your relationships with others — and with yourself. When you first think about it, the word "no" might trigger thoughts of negativity, but harnessing the power of no can be a very positive thing. In particular, mastering the art of saying no is essential to distancing yourself from negative people or situations. Many people have a “yes” default setting when asked to attend an event or help with a project, which would seem like a positive thing, right? For the most part, saying yes to others — offering to help or showing support — is a good thing, but if yes is a default response for you, you might not be pausing to consider whether or not saying yes will have a positive impact on your life. When it comes to determining whether or not a yes is a positive or a negative consider these questions:
DO YOU CONSIDER WHAT YOU REALLY WANT?
Before immediately responding to a question or a request, take a moment (or a day to think about it) and ask yourself, "What do I really want?" This isn't to say you should just do what you want all the time and not go out of your way for others, but if you find yourself always saying yes (even when you don't want to), it's time to step back and think about your own needs. And keep in mind that putting yourself first isn't always selfish. Sometimes choosing to say no can cut out resentment in a relationship and that will positively impact you and others.
DO YOU SEE "NO" AS A COMPLETE SENTENCE?
"No" has such a negative connotation that sometimes we’re afraid to actually say it without hedging or following it with an explanation. Instead, we say things like, “I’ll have to think about it…” or “I’m not sure, maybe…” These phrases not only confuse others (is that a yes or a no?), but also dilute our own thoughts. Don’t be afraid to say no when you’re 100% certain you don’t want to engage in a particular activity. Imagine if every time you said "yes" you offered some sort of explanation as to why you wanted to partake! Just like saying yes, saying no doesn't require an explanation.
DO YOU CONSIDER THAT SAYING "NO" IS SAYING "YES"?
Whenever you say no to something, keep in mind that you're saying yes to something else. You're freeing up your time (and, in some cases, your emotional bandwidth) to engage in another (perhaps more positive) activity. If you feel bad turning someone down, try thinking about what you're saying yes to instead. Reframing the no in a more positive way might make it easier to commit to. The more you focus on how you will be spending your time, the more effortless it becomes to turn down invitations or requests that aren't adding value to your life.
DO YOU VALUE YOUR OWN TIME AND EMOTIONAL WELL-BEING?
The more you value yourself, your thoughts, and your emotions, the easier it is to say no when necessary. When you remind yourself of how valuable your time is — and that it shouldn't be wasted on certain people or situations — you’re likely to feel less guilt or hesitation when it comes to saying no. Valuing your time and your emotional wellbeing helps you to create a strong sense of self, a trait that reminds you to preserve your positive moments by saying no when you need to. Remember: loving yourself isn't selfish.
DO YOU STAND YOUR GROUND?
One of the toughest things about harnessing the power of no is encountering people who just won’t take no for an answer. You know the type — the ones that pepper you with questions or try to come up with creative solutions that will make it possible for you to say yes. When you encounter these types of people, stand your ground and simply repeat your initial response. (If you find yourself wanting to waver, consider reminding yourself of the reasons you chose to say no in the first place or what you're saying yes to when you're saying no.)
It can be tough to say no sometimes, but learning how to do it without feeling guilty or unsettled is an essential aspect of living a positive, present life. The more you master the art of saying no when you need to, the easier it becomes to fill your life with activities and people who positively influence you. Saying no is also a vital skill for staying true to yourself, which is one of the most important ways to live positively in the present.
Want more inspiration for staying true to yourself? You can start by doing some soul-searching with the Finding Yourself workbook. Get to know yourself better, discover more about what you value, and uncover what you want most by downloading a copy of the e-book Finding Yourself: A Soul-Searching Workbook for Surprising Self Discovery. Filled with inspiration, questions, and activities to get you thinking about what it means to be you, Finding Yourself is a must for learning more about who you are and about what matters most to you. Learn more about the workbook here and purchase your very own soul-searching copy here.