It can be very hard to say No, especially if we like to please people. Too often, our default is to say a compliant, people-pleasing Yes.
But every time we say Yes to one thing, we are saying No to something else, because we have a limited number of hours in our day, and days in our lives, so when we say Yes to other people’s projects and desires, too often we are saying No to our own projects and desires.
So ask yourself: whose projects and desires are more important to you?
There is a story about the world-renowned psychologist, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, wishing to interview the educator Peter Drucker for his book on creativity. Drucker, far from being flattered by the request from the great man, rather waspishly responded that he didn’t believe in creativity, he believed in productivity, and if he accepted every interview request that came his way he wouldn’t have time to be productive, so no, he was not willing to be interviewed.
Drucker knew that his own productivity was his priority, so he had no problem saying no, regardless of who was doing the asking.
Often, our Yes is fear-based.
We say Yes to paid work because we don’t trust sufficiently that the Universe will support our Work*. We say Yes because we’re afraid that if we say No we will disappoint people, and they may not like us any more. We say Yes because we are afraid of missing out, not trusting that, if something or somebody is meant to be in our lives, the opportunity will come around and again and again until things are as they are meant to be.
And what is the upshot of all that Yes, and not enough No? We end up exhausted, addicted, depressed, stressed out, angry, frustrated, and ill.
When our mind can’t say No, our body will.
When we don’t do the things that nurture our spirit, but allow ourselves to be pushed and pulled and sidetracked into other people’s projects, we end up paying a heavy price for neglecting ourselves and our souls.
If you don’t yet know what your Work is, it can be easy to say Yes. You can convince yourself that this request might open a door that will help you find your Work. Occasionally, that may be true. So you can keep on saying Yes to everything, and hope that eventually you stumble across the thing that will inspire your life’s Work.
Or you can say No to those alluring invitations, and instead spend your precious time looking into your heart, deciding what you want, and then manifesting it into your life with clarity, intention, and purpose.
Real life is a dance between both, between intention and serendipity. So look to your heart for guidance. If something excites you, say Yes. If not, push aside your inner voice of must and should and ought, and express your desire.
Use your No as an opportunity to reaffirm to yourself what you really want.
“Thank you for the offer/invitation. That sounds very tempting, but right now my priority is to focus on my Work/self-care/etc.”
Be mindful about your Yes and your No, making your choice from a position of wisdom, courage, strength and self-care, and watch the magic happen.
Take some time to meditate or journal on these questions (and if you don’t have enough time, say No to something so you make time!):
- Where do I give away my time too easily?
- What is stopping me from saying No?
- If I had a month of no distractions, how would I choose to spend my time?
Before you say Yes to anything, ask yourself these five questions:
- Is it necessary?
- Will it bring greater good to my life or the planet?
- Will it fail to happen without my participation?
- Do I have the time?
- Do I really want to do it?
Your answer has to be ‘yes’ to at least four, including the last one, for you to say Yes.