The Importance of “No”

We are constantly being told to say, “Yes,” more and to embrace every opportunity that life throws at us. In fact, there is even a popular book and a popular film called, “Yes Man,” which is all about saying, “Yes,” to things and living life more fully as a result.

This is a very nice idea–in theory. In practice though? In actuality, it is usually counterproductive and can even end up being destructive!

The Problem With Always Saying, “Yes”

In books like, “Yes Man,” the main character finds himself accepting all kinds of exciting opportunities: going on adventures, meeting new people, and learning new skills.

That would be nice, but in reality, it is often not how these things work out. Instead, we find ourselves saying, “Yes,” more often, and ultimately, we get tired–too tired to do the things we want and need to do for ourselves.

We go out with friends when we really just want to stay home and relax after a long day. We keep doing things for others at the expense of what we really want or love to do. Or we spend money to go out with friends, when we want to save that money for something else.

The Power of, “No”

This is where saying, “No,” comes in.

The problem is that saying, “Yes,” to one thing, ultimately is the same as saying, “No,” to another.

Saying, “Yes,” actually limits your options more than saying, “No!”

When you say, “Yes,” to a night out for instance, you are actually saying, “No,” to a night in–and to a different night out. When you say, “Yes,” to helping someone move, you actually say, “No,” to working out that night or spending time on your new side business.

Now, I am not going to pretend that this is all really easy. I still struggle with this, too.

The problem is that many of us feel compelled to say, “Yes,” to people and as though we are letting our friends down if we say, “No.”

This is a point of view that needs to change, though.

While there are some situations where saying, “Yes,” is the kind and helpful thing to do, we are in no way obligated to always say, “Yes.” Furthermore, we should not feel guilty for saying, “No.”

The secret is simply to make sure that you know what your priorities are and that you have a reason to say, “No.” In other words, do not say, “No,” and then just watch TV. Say, “No,” and then use the time to move closer to your goals.

And there is a balance to be struck here, too.

The simple solution? Treat your solo activities with the respect they deserve. Book them into your calendar. Then treat them like any other important appointment!

Do you struggle with saying, “No,” or do you find it easy? What strategies do you use? Please let me know in the comments below.