Written by Deborah Sogeola
“No”, a word with only one syllable and yet so much power.
Many of us hear No every day. We know the word, we are familiar with it but we don’t know how to say it, then feel bad when we do. In many situations the guilt is unnecessary. Learning the importance of saying No can change our lives for the better.
Learning to say No protects you. How many times have we not wanted to go out and spend money when we didn’t have it? How many times have we taken on more work than we knew we could possibly handle? Or ended up on a date that we really didn’t want to be on? The anxiety, the stress and the confusion that have the potential to arise from these situations can easily be avoided by simply saying NO. No, I won’t go on a date with you. No, I am not able to take on more work etc, etc. No protects your peace of mind. You’re not being rude, you’re being honest, and avoiding stressful or uncomfortable situations that are not conducive to your wellbeing.
Saying No allows you to focus on what truly matters. When you unclutter your life by removing events you didn’t want to attend or tasks that you don’t enjoy doing from your agenda, something miraculous happens… You have more time to focus on the things that matter to you (surprising I know). The time you’ve spent stressing over tasks you didn’t want to do, were times that you could have spent exploring a hobby, hanging out with friends, or doing other things you love.
No lets others know what your boundaries are. When you let someone take advantage of you once, they assume that it’s okay to continue taking advantage until you say otherwise. If something makes you feel uncomfortable, you have every right to say No and take a stand. The ever-wise Oprah once said that No “is a complete sentence”, it requires no further explanation and should be respected. Guard your heart, mind and soul as everything you do in life flows from these three points. Life should be filled with purpose, not resentment for doing something you never wanted to do in the first place. You shouldn’t feel bad for saying it just because it made someone sad, but in the same vein, you must question what the cost of the word is to you.
Learning to say No also means that sometimes you’ll have to say No to yourself, and that’s a good thing. There will be days when you will make silly decisions, like choosing to shop like Kim K even though you’re definitely on a girl scout budget.
We all make impulsive decisions that can benefit or hinder us in one way or another, however what is most important is knowing yourself: what’s good for you, what isn’t, and stopping yourself from being careless when it comes to your priorities.
Learning to say No also means that you should be comfortable with hearing No. Surround yourself with people who are willing to tell you No; it’s a foolproof way to safeguard yourself from the misguided ideas that undoubtedly pop into your head from time to time. For instance, one summer when my brother was 12, he thought it would be a cool idea to try flying out of the window because he saw it in an anime. I told him NO and explained just how dangerous this idea was, which thankfully put an end to his spontaneous window jumping.
We can all imagine situations when it would have been disastrous to have “Yes-People” around to cheer on our less than stellar ideas, “sure, get in the car after you’ve had a few drinks”, “get back into that toxic relationship with that person”, “of course, spend money you don’t have on an all-inclusive vacay” etc. You need someone in your life who is willing to look you in the eye and call you to task. Having this type of person around saves you from yourself, with a simple No every once in awhile. When you surround yourself with “Yes-People” you are never questioned about your poor decisions, and continue to make them. It’s a rocky way to go through life.
Furthermore, being comfortable hearing No should move beyond ourselves and extend to other people in our lives as well. It’s important to remember that respect is a two way street. If we want people to respect our No and take it seriously, we have to be willing to respect No from others, and extend to them that same courtesy. When someone says No to something you’ve asked of them, it might be upsetting, it might not be the answer you wanted to hear, but just like you that person is also entitled to protect themselves mentally, physically and emotionally.
No is not as bad of a word as everyone seems to think it is. Saying no is actually a good thing because it means that you refuse to compromise your wellbeing, or your health. It also means that you can be honest with yourself by knowing when what you are about to do is a bad idea, or when you have way too much on your plate. We all need to be a little bolder with our No’s so that our yes’s actually mean something.
Deborah is currently a Communications student at the University of Ottawa. She is a lifestyle blogger for The Berries and has written various articles for HerCampus.com. When not obsessing over blog content she can be found reading, shamelessly watching The Real Housewives and binge watching Scrubs.