Saying "NO" and the Freedom that Lies Within

by Stacy Lafley

October 11, 2017

Right now I’m supposed to be at a Gorillaz concert with my husband, and earlier this afternoon I had to break the news to that sweet man that I really wasn’t feeling up to going.

Saying NO was seriously difficult for me in this case, not only because I had been looking forward to the concert, but I knew my saying "no" would affect my husband - he would have to find someone else to take the tickets, and I was bailing on our date.

I knew in my mind the answer was no for a good while before I was able to share it out loud.  I didn't NEED to say no (I wasn't vomiting, I didn't have a fever, etc. I was simply feeling run down.) Tonight, I CHOSE to say “no” in the name of my own self-care.  Is this something you’ve ever had to do?  Was it difficult? Did you worry what others would think of you? 


As a northerner in a southern city, I often find myself surrounded by kind, agreeable people-pleasers and I feel as though I’m often the outspoken, contrarian one.  Considering how much trouble I have saying “no” sometimes, I can only imagine how difficult it must be for everyone else!  


We are so often told that we should say “yes”… Yes to opportunities, yes to new experiences, YES to our friends when they call to hang out, because if you didn’t, well then you wouldn’t have friends, right?

As long as you say YES, then you will be a positive person who other people will want to be around.  If you keep saying yes, than people will love you more. Right? Wrong.  It’s powerful to know yourself, to know your needs and when you’ve had enough.  Basically what I’m saying is, that it’s OK to say NO, and we should respect each other more for doing so.  


NO is not a closed door, sometimes it’s an open one.  NO can be YES to something else… yes to self-care, a healthier diet, and fulfilling needs that are personal to YOU. Although he would probably disagree with me, I probably have the hardest time saying “no” to my husband.  Who do you struggle to say "no" to?

Holding your ground and giving in find their own balance in a marriage or any relationship, to be sure. It’s worth asking yourself how often you give in, (especially when it feels insignificant) and how it might feel to hold your ground.   All those insignificant “yes’s” can add up, and you may lose yourself in them. Before you know it, you've lost sight of what you really want, like, or need.  You've lost who you are.


We often say “yes” because we want to be loved, we want to feel loved, and we fear that by saying NO, we are giving someone a reason not to love us.  If we say NO, the other person will be upset, so it is much easier to say YES.  The misconception is that the more you can be agreeable, the more you will be loved. 

The problem is, you lose yourself somewhere among the YES’S, and the yes's don't really make you any more loved.   Who are you really, and what do you really want?  REALLY? 

Notice the next time you have a gut instinct that tells you don’t really want to do something/eat something/listen to something, but then you go ahead and say yes anyway.   If you are very used to saying YES, you might not even HEAR that tiny voice within you that says no.  This is worth practicing. There is freedom in saying no - you are free to want what you really want, to be who you truly are.


How passive are you, and how does this show up in areas of your life?  Are you doing activities you actually enjoy?  Are you eating in a way that makes you feel vibrant and nourished?  Are your friends people who uplift you?  Do you feel run down and exhausted from too much activity?  Are you bored by not enough activity?  How has saying YES when you should say NO impacted your life so far? 


On the same token, let’s try harder to respect one another when we hear a “NO”.  Let us seek to not take this personally, but rather realize that the other person has their own needs that we probably don’t understand.   Let’s uplift each other, out of our complacency, and deeply respect the need for NO.