The Power of Words: Part III The Strength to Say "No"

The Power of Words is part of an ongoing series, beginning with the Part I Self-Love post.

We all know how good it feels to volunteer, to be part of something bigger than ourselves, to give our time/ effort/ love to something positive.  This is a wonderful feeling and an excellent use of our time and energy.  As we saw one Mindful Monday, Taylor Mali encourages our yeses in his "Silver Lined Heart," and rightly so; often, we may feel pressure to keep up with other employees, students, or parents around us; or it may simply be a habit of saying "Yes" and making it work.

Sometimes, however, we say "Yes" (or "YES!") to too many obligations. 
"Yes, of course I can do this week's carpool...(again)" 
"Why, yes, I'd love to make something for the bake sale..." 
"Yes, I'd be happy to stay after and help with that..."
"Yes, I can tutor your child during my lunch hour (for free)..."
"Sure, I will run by the store to grab that for you..."

The yeses go on and on.  But what about when you can't go on and on?  What about when you simply don't have more time in your day or more room in your life for a single additional "Yes"?  What do you do then? 

You find the strength and courage to say "No." 

Say it with me, "No." 

"No" is just as powerful as "Yes," but sometimes no makes us feel like we aren't doing enough or that we're lazy or selfish.  I don't necessarily know that you are not lazy or selfish, but my guess is if "No" is a struggle for you, you are neither.  You're probably in the habit of saying "Yes," because you like to make others happy, help other people, and donate your time (even when that leaves you without time to yourself).

Today's Power of Words post is to remind you that you are entitled to say "No."  I am not suggesting you become a "No"-er.  Please don't quit all of your obligations and shut yourself in your home, but know that sometimes "No" is what you need to be happy and healthy.  You have the choice to do or not do whatever you would like with your time.  Some obligations may feel like less of a choice, but regardless, in the end it is up to you.

"No" does not have to be a bad word.  It also doesn't have to be a declaration of war.  It can be a calming and refreshing change.  If you decide to say "No" to something you don't truly want to do in the first place, it may help you feel like you can make the time for yourself that you deserve.

One way to make saying "No" easier is to be direct when communicating with others.  When you have a request, an opinion about something, or you are asked a question directly, it will save you and others grief if you are direct in your words.  Just like saying "No," being direct isn't a bad thing.  There is no need to be rude, just be clear and say or ask what you mean.  Few things are worse than a person clearly wanting to ask you something, but instead skirting around the topic.  ("It would be so great if I could go get ice cream..." instead of simply asking, "Would you like to get ice cream with me?")

So, today, work to say what you mean and if need be, say no.

Photo taken at FOODE in Fredericksburg, VA

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