This is a guest post from Stuart Mills.
“Say no to everything, so you can say yes to the one thing.” ― Richie Norton
One of the hardest things to do in the world is to say “No”.
Whether it’s saying “no” to our partner, a friend, or a work colleague, it can be near painful to force ourselves to turn someone down.
After all, we want to help, and we want to show that we care and prove our friendship/love/co-operation to them.
But even if by saying “yes” we put ourselves in an uncomfortable position, we still say it.
We keep saying “yes” over and over even when our own patience is beginning to wear thin, or we start to feel tired and exhausted from the frequent requests for our time, attention, and energy.
This is because if we say “no”, we feel that we are letting the other person down.
We feel we’re violating the trust between us, and proving that we aren’t worthy of their love and respect. So we say “yes” in a misguided attempt to preserve that ‘healthy’ relationship.
But we can still say “no” and feel good about it – we can decline a request without feeling that we have damaged the relationship.
We can even say “no” freely and still maintain our self-confidence.
Here are a number of reasons for feeling good about saying “no”.
You’re Putting Yourself First Before Others
Without a doubt, I believe that the most important person in each of our lives is ourselves.
We all have responsibility for only one person in our lives, ourselves.
Our minds are our own, our bodies and souls are our own, and our thoughts, behaviors, and actions are all governed by ourselves, and no-one else.
We’re all important on an equal basis, and yet there are some people who will disregard this ‘self-importance’ and put others before themselves.
They will set aside their own well-being and ‘give’ themselves over to the other person, forgetting that they too have a right to live their life how they want.
When you say “no” to someone, whether it’s your parent trying to tell you what to do, or your friend asking you to cover for them yet again, you are putting yourself before them.
You are telling them and yourself that you value your own life and freedom, and that you won’t let it be comprised by what they want you to do.
By saying “no”, you grant yourself the respect that you deserve.
You are not putting the other person down by insulting them or trying to order them around.
Instead, you are simply saying that your time and your life is precious to you, and if you don’t feel that you want to grant their request, then you don’t have to.
You’re Freeing Up More Room For Your Own Life
I’m sure that you, like anyone else, have dreams.
We all have dreams which we’d love to fulfill – perhaps you’d like to travel the world and visit far-away countries?
Or you’d like to buy that bigger house with the swimming pool?
Or you’d like to help end world hunger and save the lives of thousands who are less fortunate?
Unfortunately, you won’t have enough time in your life to accomplish your dreams if you keep giving it away to other people.
When you say “yes” to someone, you’re granting their request.
By granting their request, you’re giving up your own time to help them accomplish their goals and dreams.
Doing homework for your child means they can spend time playing on their video games or with friends. Helping a friend clean up their house means they can relax and flip through a magazine.
Your time has been allocated to them, and you don’t get that time back.
So free up room for your own life and your own dreams by saying “no” more often.
Your life can only be filled with so much, and the less room you use for accommodating other people’s lives, the more available room you have for your own life.
Saying No To Others Is Saying Yes To Yourself
“Yes” and “no” are polar opposites – they can’t exist without each other. If “no” didn’t exist, then “yes” wouldn’t exist, and vice versa.
So, we can’t say “yes” or “no” without saying the opposite at the same time to someone or something else.
For example, if we had a choice between helping our parents with some chores and going to a local football game, we would have to say “yes” to one of these choices, and “no” to the other.
Whenever we say “yes” or “no” to something, we say the opposite to something else.
This is what happens when we say “yes” to someone’s request – we are saying “no” to ourselves.
Whenever we value someone’s else time and grant their request, we lose time which we could spend for ourselves. It’s a constant ‘swinging of the scales’ – we can either use the time we have for ourselves, or we can use it for other people.
This isn’t to say that we should always focus on ourselves and not do any favours for anyone else, but we need to be aware of how often we give up our time for other people and take back some of our time and our life if we feel we’re giving away too much of it.
When we say “no” to someone, the law of opposites comes into play and we automatically say “yes” to ourselves.
As mentioned, we are the most important people in our own lives – any time we take to value ourselves is time well spent.
It’s A Limiting Belief To Feel You ‘Have’ To Say Yes
It was Mahatma Gandhi who once said “I will not let anyone walk through my mind with dirty feet”, and he had a valid point.
What Gandhi referred to as ‘dirty feet’ were the negative words and behavior that people employ to try and gain control over others.
I’ve identified this process as a “limit chain“, where someone who possesses a limiting belief (dirty feet) attempts to pass this onto someone else, so as to justify their own limiting belief.
Feeling that we have to say “yes” all the time is a popular limiting belief as it limits what we can do in terms of fulfilling our own dreams and accomplishments.
If we said “no” and we felt bad about it, we’d likely avoid saying “no” again because of the negative feelings associated with it.
But if we felt good about saying “no” (especially after reading this article!), we would feel empowered and be more likely to say “no” again with an air of confidence.
Don’t let limiting beliefs hold you back – recognize where you’ve been saying “yes” when you haven’t wanted to, and address those situations the next time they come up. It’s not a sin to say “no” – it’s a free choice.