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Reclaiming the Word 'NO' to Create Space for 'YES'


Many of us adults have forgotten how to say no. As toddlers, we knew very well how to assert our power and even enjoyed playing with the word no. But as we’ve grown up, many of us have gotten into the habit of saying yes and agreeing even when we didn’t want to. Can you think of a recent experience when you wanted to say ‘no’ to a friend, a co-worker or family member but for some reason you said ‘yes’ anyway?

There is beneficial power in the word NO when it’s used with wisdom.

We make many choices every day that affect the person we become and the life we lead. The more mindful we can be the more we can live deliberately with others and ourselves.

We’ve all heard about setting healthy boundaries with ourselves and others, but what does that actually look like in your life? At times, we need to reclaim our space by saying no where we’ve conditioned others to expect us to say yes. Each time we agree to something we’d rather not do, we risk becoming resentful, burnt out and further disconnected from our truth. By setting healthy boundaries and consistently following through with consequences should those boundaries not be respected, we invite more nourishing relationships into our lives.

Sometimes we’re afraid to say ‘no,’ because we worry others won’t understand or will become upset. It can certainly make asserting our boundaries more difficult when others are disappointed, angry or try to convince us otherwise, but don’t give up. We can aim to respectfully assert our boundaries and live with other people’s discomforts without taking them on. We can try to find compassion when others are disappointed, but that compassion doesn’t need to replace our right to live our truth.

The thing is every time we say yes to something; we inadvertently say no to something else. For instance, when we say yes to staying later at work to gab with coworkers; we might be saying no to our exercise class. When we say yes to our own distractions and procrastinations; we might be saying no to our goals and aspirations. When we say yes to fighting with someone; we might be saying no to our peace and freedom to walk away. All too often who we unintentionally say no to is ourselves. When we repeatedly put everyone else’s needs before our own we can become too depleted to show up for anyone. Furthermore, if we resentfully do too much for others they can become less independent and we actually do them a disservice as well. You have more power than you realize. When you think less like a victim whose life is happening to them and more like a person who is consciously creating their life, your world opens up and you start to see all the ways you can use your creative power to change your story.

Sometimes we have to get to a point where we can’t take it anymore and we just have to walk away or change the script. This can end up becoming a turning point where we finally learn to stand up or instill a new boundary to foster our mental well-being and the life we want to create. What is the life you want to create? What do you need to say ‘No or Yes’ to so you can create this life and the person you want to become?

Some things worth considering say ‘No’ to are: obligation for obligation’s sake, over-committing, people-pleasing, over-giving, tolerating other people’s poor behaviour, what’s no longer serving you, your procrastinations, your excuses, saying yes to avoid missing out or being judged, staying stuck, giving out of guilt, and things you don’t enjoy that won’t help you and others. When we say ‘NO’ we create space to say ‘YES’ to what we really want in our lives!

This space gives us the freedom to say ‘YES’ to things that matter to us such as: what our hearts are calling us to do, the people we enjoy spending time with, the places/experiences & new learnings we’re drawn to, travel and exploration, time to just be, our health & wellbeing, our goals, finding & expressing our joy, nurturing loving supportive connections, volunteer work we care about, and giving because we want to. When we say yes to what’s important to us; it fills us up.

Of course, there are mandatory things we have to do such as pay our taxes, follow the law and other tasks, but too often we agree to non-mandatory things without thinking. Just because other people are...buying the latest gifts or gadgets, working in particular jobs, eating a certain diet, watching a popular tv series, giving most of their free time to their kids activities, living a traditional married with kids life, partying regularly with friends, and so on ... doesn’t mean you have to, unless you want to of course. You have a choice; how you want to live your life, how you want to show up and how you want to be treated.

I believe when we become more deliberate and start from deciding how we want to life and the person we want to be; it will become more apparent what we want to commit to or let go of and what we want to spend our time, energy and money on.

Loretta Langille

Published On: 12/01/2020

By Loretta Langille

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