The self-help world often positions “self-care” practices (like saying “no”) as a simple shift. An easy change. “Just say no when you want to and all will be well.”
Yes. 100%. And no.
Because saying no when someone else probably won’t like it is actually pretty hard.
Listen in this week for tips on how to make saying no a bit easier and also learn how following through on your no can help you heal your relationship with yourself.
Mentioned in this Episode
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‘s Up, Bees?!
If you – like me – are a child of the 1980s OR you know someone who was, you probably remember First Lady Nancy Reagan’s catchy slogan: “Just Say No”.
She said it first as part of the elementary education effort in the war on drugs.
It’s still good advice.
All of us would do well to say NO more often to things that will get in the way of us living the life we want and deserve to live.
Hard core drugs are a pretty obvious hard core no for most of us.
Today we’re gonna run through three other instances where “Just Say No” would be well applied.
Three instances where it might seem like you don’t have the option to say no – AND, in fact – you really do.
No number 1 – Just say no to doing things that you don’t want to do
This one is really hard for most of us – me included.
It can be hard to say no to something you don’t want to do – especially when someone you care about (or feel responsible for) is the one who wants you to do the thing.
Your kids want you to jump on the trampoline.
Your husband wants you to be his escape route at the company dinner.
Your mom wants your help cleaning out her garage.
Your neighbor needs volunteers for the bake sale.
The list could go on and on and on.
The main trouble is – none of the things on the list are obviously harmful or overtly bad.
There are TONS of studies detailing the negative effects of drugs. Most people understand the risks involved and they’d probably get why you’d say “no thanks” when invited to partake.
The detrimental effect of doing things you don’t want to do is LESS universally understood and harder to quantify.
But the detrimental effects are still there.
Because when you do things you don’t want to do – you miss an opportunity to get to know yourself. You forfeit the chance to honor what’s important to YOU. You weaken the relationship you have with yourself and you become someone that YOU can’t really count on.
Your trust in yourself is compromised every time you say yes when you really mean no.
And it’s pretty tough to build the life of your dreams on such a crumbly foundation.
So consider saying no when you want to say no.
I understand that this invitation might seem impossible to accept or uncomfortable to follow through on.
But it’s only impossible and uncomfortable because of No number 2.
Just say no to running away from your emotions.
Saying yes when you really mean no is a form of running away from your emotions.
Eating lots of ice cream or binge-watching Netflix is a form of running away from your emotions.
Agreeing when you don’t agree and going with the flow even when you’d rather not are forms of running away from your emotions.
And I would guess you run from your emotions in some form or another several times a week.
I’m not judging you if that’s the case.
I sometimes run from my emotions too – by working long hours, eating chocolate or indulging my children’s endless requests.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with me for running sometimes.
Nothing wrong with you either.
In fact, the opposite is true.
You and I have both been told – our entire lives, from various sources – that’s it’s better to feel happy and it’s a problem to feel sad.
We also know from first-hand experience that happy is a more pleasant experience and so we have collectively assumed that a happy experience is an indicator that things are going “right”.
It all started with our parents’ well-intended instructions to make our friends and siblings feel better.
Under the direction of our teachers and parents, we learned to say we were sorry when we weren’t and we learned to include our little brother in our tea party when we’d really rather not.
So we all came by our lying honestly. We were told that making sure everyone around us feels okay was more important than telling the truth.
Let me emphasize that there’s nothing wrong with ANYONE in that picture.
Everyone in the story had been programmed to believe that smiles are preferable to tears.
Your parents tried to stop the tears by forcing you to say sorry and you tried to stop your parents irritation by following through and saying you were – even if you weren’t.
And so the dance of dodging honest feelings continues – decade after decade, passed down the generations.
Because it seems like it’s important for everyone to be happy as often as possible – which ironically – is a belief that leaves most of us feeling pretty miserable a good chunk of the time.
Which is only a problem because of No number 3.
Just say no to the lie that everything is urgent.
Most things really aren’t.
Most often, when you think something needs to be solved immediately, the truth is that that same something could stand to wait an hour – or even a day – or longer.
There are some exceptions – but unless there’s honest-to-goodness blood or actual flames involved… the thing that feels so important to solve and soothe right this minute… probably isn’t.
There’s probably room for the pain to breathe and the solutions to percolate.
Let’s take this real life experience from my world, earlier this week.
Scene: I’d taken my two older kids to the local rec center pool to swim. I’d also coordinated with two other families so that each of my kids would have a friend their age to swim with. #momwin
After the swimming was over, my daughter asked if her friend could come to JiuJitsu with us. I said she’d have to ask her mom and bought myself some time.
We’ve taken friends to JiuJitsu before, so it’s wasn’t a totally out of the realm of possibility request… EXCEPT… that day was the day that my ENTIRE family has class.
My two oldest kids have Black Belt Club from 4:30-5:30.
I have Women Empowered from 5:30-6:30.
Husband has combatives from 6:30-7:30.
It’s a packed JiuJitsu day with a lot of childcare juggling as we pass the babies off so everyone can get where they need to go.
Usually, husband meets us there so he can wrangle the kids while I’m in class – then I take them home with me while he goes to class.
On this particular day, however, he wasn’t going to be able to make it.
Normally, his absence would be my reason to just skip class.
But not this time. Earlier that day, I’d already decided that my two oldest kids could watch my youngest in the hallway outside my JiuJitsu classroom for 60 mins.
It wouldn’t be ideal, but it would work.
I’d geared myself up to believe that they could stand to be a little bored so that I could progress toward my pink belt goal.
For most of the spring season, I’d missed my classes to run kids to volleyball, baseball or soccer and now that those sports are over – I’d decided it was time to refocus on me.
BUT – when my daughter wanted her friend to join us… I felt the pull to just say yes and skip my class… again.
Because I want my kids to be social and spend time with friends.
Because I know this particular girl would probably just be sitting at home on her own if we didn’t bring her along.
Because I really doubted that my older daughter would be much help watching my younger daughter if her friend was also hanging around.
So I was tempted to say no to me and yes to them. I’m a woman and a mom and that’s OFTEN what women and moms do.
As I said, I’ve made that choice MANY times before and so I’m NOT – I repeat NOT – judging you if you’ve made that kind of choice as well.
All through spring sports season, I made that choice on purpose.
AND – I didn’t want to make that choice today.
I simply felt obligated to say yes to them.
Which WASN’T a good enough reason for me to say no to me.
So I pep talked myself into saying no on purpose.
I say “pep talked” because I believe it’s important to point out how the self-help world often positions “self-care” practices (like saying “no”) as a simple shift. An easy change.
Just say no when you want to and all will be well.
Because saying no when someone else probably won’t like it is actually pretty hard.
Here’s how the three nos we’ve been talking about played out for me in this scenario:
No number 1 – Just say no to things that you really don’t want to do:
I didn’t want to add another kid to our already chaotic day at JiuJitsu.
I didn’t want to manage the timing of the carpool.
I didn’t want to introduce her to the JiuJitsu instructor or assume responsibility for another kid’s safety during her first experience in a brand new class.
I didn’t want to listen to my other kids complain about how THEY didn’t get to bring a friend.
I didn’t want to listen to them all beg me to take them out to dinner after class.
I didn’t want to put myself in a position where I’d have to say no AGAIN to all of them and then hear them complain after I’d just made a sacrifice to bring friends to class.
No thank you. To ALL of that.
No number 2 – Just say no to running away from your emotions
When I said no to my daughter and her friend, I also said yes to feeling guilt and stress – on purpose. Guilt because I was leaving a little girl out and stress because I would have to keep an eye on potentially crankier kids while I was doing my class.
If I had skipped out on my class, I could have avoided guilt and stress – but I also would have had to take on the disappointment of delaying my belt promotion.
So the lesson there is – I would have felt something I’d rather not feel either way. Stress and guilt if I go for my goal. Disappointment if I don’t.
Why not go for the uncomfortable emotion that’s gonna get me where I want to go?
No number 3 – Just say no to the lie that everything is urgent.
When I said no to bringing my daughter’s friend, my brain offered me all of these tragic scenarios where the friend feels left out and her self-esteem never recovers because an adult she trusted excluded her.
There were also the scenarios where my daughter stops asking for what she wants because I didn’t tell her yes this one time. Where she learns that her needs aren’t important because I put my needs before hers.
Can you hear the drama in all of that? The pretend urgency?
Saying no meant I had to CONSCIOUSLY quiet my brain around the lie that everything is urgent – because you know what? The friend lived.
My daughter did too.
Neither of them seem worse for the wear after that “no” answer and in fact – it looks like the friend’s mom might bring her to JiuJitsu this weekend – which is arguably a better set up for the friend because her mom can then choose to enroll her long term whereas I wouldn’t have been able to make that decision.
Taking her to class with us that specific day WASN’T urgent – even though my brain worried that it was.
Same goes for all of you, Bees.
You’re allowed to say no. I suggest you do. Whenever you want to.
And I suggest that you expect your brain to freak out a little and give you some extra feelings. When you feel them, remember – most things are not as urgent as your freaking out brain might lead you to believe.
One more thing on this – sometimes my Bees use THIS question to help them decide whether or not to say no to something:
Who do I want to be here?
It’s a great question.
So long as – the answer isn’t already implied.
If ANY answer to that question is TRULY okay – that’s when the question gives you the freedom you deserve as you’re choosing your life.
For example, if you can answer: I want to be the woman who prioritizes my pink belt goals JUST AS EASILY as you can answer: I want to be the woman who brings an extra little girl along…
If NEITHER answer carries more morality than the other – then keep on asking yourself that question…
If the question: “Who do I want to be?” implies an answer of who you’re SUPPOSED to be, you’re not doing yourself any favors by asking it.
Your answer to that question has to be a REAL choice or all you’re doing is using that question to scold yourself into doing something you don’t want to do. Which is the EXACT opposite of our goal.
You deserve to be more connected with yourself than that, my dear Bee.
We can help you find that connection together when you subscribe to and share this podcast.
Choose to be a woman who supports other women by spreading these messages of empowerment and freedom. Every. Single. Sunday.
All of us here in the Defying Gravity Revolution Hive thank you for helping to create a world where more women stop caring what humans think is impossible.
Choose courage, Bee and keep on flying!