One of the most liberating parts of getting older is learning how beautiful and empowering it is to say no. I think we could use a little more “no” in the world.
And, of course, I understand how much we all love the word “yes” and the kind-hearted people who use it. It’s such a generous word—the ultimate people-pleaser. In fact, let’s call “yes” the hero of the dictionary—a positive affirmation for what is possible.
To say yes is to join in, take charge, and find a way. To say yes is to move mountains, find cures, and solve problems. Yes pushes boundaries and takes us to places we never thought we’d go.
You want a beautiful next chapter of life? Say yes every chance you get. Yes to a better job, yes to more health, improved relationships, and new adventures. Yes to joy, challenge, laughter, peace, compassion, happiness, and love.
Saying yes can rock your world. And I’m all for it.
However, like all good paradoxes, yes can also destroy us or turn us into puppets and clones. Yes can make us do things we don’t want to do or shouldn’t do. Yes may be the language of the swashbuckling hero, but no is the language of the walk-to-your-own-beat, live your own truth, spiritual warrior.
If yes is Superman, no is Batman—a bit darker, but still a superhero, and arguably the second most powerful word in our vocabulary. We’re making “no” the word of the week in our official Oxygen Buzz dictionary.
Yes, my friends, it’s time to shake our heads and wag our fingers. It’s time to border up the windows, lock the doors, and learn how to say no.
If it makes it easier to swallow, think about it as saying say yes to no.
Your life will never be the same.
Putting the Creative and Awakened Life Into Practice
Oxygen Buzz Challenge #4: Say Yes to No
Something to Ponder
A good no shouldn’t be defiant, unyielding, absolute, or without motivation. That’s not the knee-jerk liberation we seek. A good no should be quiet and confident, a peaceful mantra for living your authentic truth.
Challenging Ways to Practice Saying No
Here are a few suggestions for putting a few more life-affirming nos into your life (go ahead and add your own).
- Say no to putting yourself last. You can’t give away what you don’t have, whether that’s energy, love, humor, or joy. Take care of yourself first, and the world will be better off.
- Say no to overtime, unreasonable deadlines, and impossible workloads that leave no time for joy and a deeper search for meaning. Schedule your life so that your work serves your inner and outer worlds. Make the same time and commitment for your inner journey that you do for your career or your family.
- Say no to excessive television, electronics, news, politics, gossip, food, drink, or anything that brings you imbalance, fatigue, and illness, no matter how harmless, pleasurable, or intoxicating it may be.
- Say no to one or two more things that are hurting the Earth—plastic straws, almonds, long showers, lights left on. And while you’re at it, say no to people who try to make you feel guilty for not doing more.
- Say no to friends who infringe on your space, covet your time, suck your energy, and give nothing in return (you know who they are). Aim for creativity and compassion as you firmly put this into practice.
- Say no to work you don’t want to do, places you don’t want to live, and situations that no longer serve your needs.
- Say no to blindly adopting the attitudes, beliefs, and mindsets of those around you. Discover new ones that challenge and inspire you to live and create differently.
- Say no to always being the knight in shining armor. While it’s great to be there for others, don’t get trapped into thinking it always has to be you who is the shoulder to cry on, throw the surprise party, or house-sit the neighbor’s pet. This can be hard, especially when it comes to family and friends, but if your no comes neutrally and from the place of your truth, it’s the right word. If someone resents you for it, then the favor wasn’t asked with a spirit of gratitude, which validates that it wasn’t in harmony for you to say yes in the first place.
The beauty of no is that it asks us what to leave out. “No” asks us to recognize what doesn’t work, and in doing so, to discover what does.
When you think about it…no is yes in disguise—a small shake of the head that becomes the line we draw in the sand—a choice and a statement of what we believe and how we want to live.
No is our secret weapon for a better life.