I’ve struggled with learning how to say “no” despite being an opinionated and sometimes abrasive communicator. In the words of the great Jay-Z, “I got no patience, and I hate waiting.” So I often railroad my way through life, especially when making decisions.
“Yes” forms in my vocal cords, rises from my throat, and slides out of my mouth so easily that I barely have time to ask myself, “Is this what I really want?” If this relationship, this friendship, or this career move feels wrong on an intuitive level, why am I agreeing to it in the first place? Because I fear that saying “no” will lead to inertia, shut doors, and, potentially, a lack of opportunities in love, my career, and finances. It’s like that episode in Sex and the City where Samantha succumbs to dating The Turtle, a charmless Wall street guru that has terrible breath and even cornier pickup lines, after being ditched by a date. Because even sexy and confident AF Samantha feels the brunt of rejection. She settles and decides to transform the Turtle into a man she can commit to and would want to fuck.
So many of us do this, don’t we? Whether we settle in marriage or a romantic partnership or we commit to a job until retirement because we’re too terrified to transition into a new field, we say “yes” when it doesn’t feel right.
And when we say “yes” to people and circumstances that don’t align with who we are and what we desire, we block what is truly meant for us.
What Happens When You Learn How to Say No
Let’s flip it then. Let’s imagine how your life – my life – would be different if we learn how to say no.
- Imagine saying “no” to a potential partner, relationship, or date because you don’t let loneliness decide for you. When you learn how to say no in this instance you allow the right partner to come along. You say yes to a relationship that serves you because you value yourself. And you’re actually available to go on a date.
- Learn how to say “no” to a job where you work 60 hours a week. Say “yes to working in a company that provides you with a work-life balance.
- Visualize yourself saying “no” to a long work commute that impedes you from having a social life. Say “yes” to taking evening walks on the beach or the park or attend a Happy Hour. You can even pick up a hobby, like taking a salsa class, or reading books.
These are just some of the ways that learning how to say no can change your life. So, I challenge you (and myself) to dig deep when making decisions. The next time you are asked for a favor or an option arises in your career or personal life, ask yourself: is this what I really want? Does this really align with the life and the lifestyle that I ultimately desire? If you feel a kick in your gut like you’re about to give birth to a 9-pound baby, the answer is “no.”
And when you say “no,” say so confidently. Say so knowing that you’re on track to living your life as you see fit. Eventually, you’ll say “yes” to what stirs you and what serves you. In the end, that is always the right answer.