“You just have to do your own thing, no matter what anyone says. It’s your life.” E. Embry
The truth is, this is your life and it’s up to you to choose how you want to live it. Whether it’s your relationship, work, hobbies or interests, it’s up to you to dream it and set its creation in motion. Aligned with your values, talents and gifts, you can craft a life that is fulfilling, meaningful, and contributes to others’ well-being.
An essential ingredient to a life well-lived is our ability to make good choices about how we spend our time. There’s an old saying that what we say “No” to is what we say “Yes!” to.
It takes courage, doesn’t it, to say “No”? Out of concern for not being liked or approved of, or out of desire to help another person, saying “No” is hard. All human beings share the need to belong and when we say “No” to another person we run the risk of being rejected, of not being belonging any longer.
Yet, saying “No” can be liberating. It allows us stop giving our time and resources (energy, money, etc.) away to people and situations that are meaningless and draining. To avoid parceling out our talents and abilities to causes and activities we don’t really care about, rather than sharing them in ways that bring us and everyone around us joy.
Cheryl Richardson, in her new book, The Art of Extreme Self-Care, speaks about the need to accept that we will disappoint someone if we are creating the life that’s right for us. She talks about authenticity walking hand-in-hand with disappointing others, and that if one is to have an authentic life, disappointing others will be a fact of life.
Saying “No” can be the first step to living a life of greater satisfaction. It can be the key to enjoying a full and rewarding relationship based on truth and authenticity. It is true that when we say “No” we’re really saying “Yes” to something else. You say “No” to going to a social event that doesn’t mean much to you or your partner, and you’re really saying “Yes!” to a quiet night at home enjoying each other’s company. Say, “No” to watching TV after work allows you to say “Yes!” to going biking or rollerblading together.
In deeper ways, too, “No” can be your best friend in a relationship. “No” is a beautiful word when being verbally abused by another person through put-downs, sarcasm, name-calling, harsh criticisms, or blaming. (The simple word, ‘No” can be even more potent when accompanied by holding a hand up as in “Stop” and saying in a calm voice, “I am not willing to have this conversation if you’re going to treat me like this…”) Or, when being asked to do something you feel unsafe or uncomfortable doing. In these situations, you are truly saying “Yes!” to being treated with respect, and to living within your own integrity.
It takes courage…
It takes courage to be willing to step out and speak your truth. To express yourself fully, including saying “No”. It takes courage to create a life (and relationship) of your own choosing based on what brings you meaning and joy.
4 Tips for Growing Your Courage to Say “No”:
1. Practice saying the word “No”.
Get used to saying it calmly and confidently. Say it out loud to yourself as you stand in front of a mirror and feel the sense of strength and empowerment it gives you.
2. Practice saying “No” in low-level kinds of situations before you use it in highly-charged ones.
Try it out in the grocery store or at the mall when someone is trying to sell you something. Use it with persistent telemarketers, even those from non-profits promoting great causes. Get used to knowing you’re disappointing someone.
3. Identify what it is you really want to say “Yes!” to.
If it’s hard for you to know what you want, make a list of all the things you don’t want in any given situation. Then use the “don’t wants” to create a second list of what you do want.
4. Remind yourself on a daily basis that this is your life and it’s up to you to create it the way you want.
Megan Raphael is an Advice Blogger for mylifecompass.com, a personal development company for women. Known as The Courage Coach, Megan is the award-winning author of The Courage Code, an inspiring book for any woman looking for courage and wanting to live from a place of authenticity. She is a certified life coach and public speaker. Megan is also an enthusiastic Compass coach. Megan is Founder of Courage Project, an initiative helping women find THEIR courage to dive into life. She has over 30 years of experience working as a leader, consultant and trainer in business and industry. She served as Health Director for one of Michigan’s largest Indian Tribes. She is the developer of “Beachcoaching”, an innovative personal development program for women. Megan is living a life of her dreams along the shores of Grand Traverse Bay in Northern Michigan with her husband of 35 years, and 2 young adult children.