Get Well

The Ultimate Form of Self-Care: How to Stop Saying Yes When You Really Want to Say No 

by Amanda Baudier

So you’ve got this whole “self-care routine” thing nailed: you have your acupuncturist on speed dial, your affirmations plugged into your Google cal (it’s 11:11 a.m. which means, “My worth is not determined by work!”) and you even meditate (almost) daily. Good work: what you say “yes” to is in alignment with your needs and you are ready to move onto the more advanced and challenging phase of self-care: saying no.

Picture this: It’s Tuesday at 4:19 pm and you like, literally can’t even that it’s only Tuesday. You have a huge presentation on Friday that you’ve worked really hard on and are excited to present and your whole week is planned around looking good (blowout! manicure!) and feeling good (eight hours a night. meditating every morning). You’ve got your eye on the prize and are ready to rock your boss’s world with your brilliance — nothing will stand in your way.

Suddenly you get a text from your best friend. She’s been having boy problems (again) and she, unsurprisingly, also literally, can’t even that it’s only Tuesday. “Drinks,” she proclaims, “7:30. I need you.” You’re tempted but your plan was to do yoga at 6:30 pm on the other side of town, then go to bed around 9:30 pm. You know—from years of experience—that Tuesday drink usually leads to Friday fatigue and you need to be ON for your presentation. She texts again, “can’t wait to have a bitch-fest. This night might end with shots. Thank God we’re friends.” Gulp.

Which option do you choose? Option A: some variation of “No,” or Option B: “Well, I guess I should. She needs me and it’s only Tuesday… I’ll recover.” Option B is not bad. Option B is not wrong. Option B is just disempowered. Option B does not serve your highest good. Option B says, “my friend will be mad at me if…” and, “I should…” and “even though I’ve been in this exact situation before and know I’ll wind up exhausted and feeling like shit for three days, this time I’ll be fine.” Option B is habitual, disempowered, people-pleasing and obligated. Option B can be a Punk Out.

You see, as grown-ass people, we have a pretty good idea of what’s good for us. We don’t always do it, but we know deep down what we should aim to do. We can differentiate a bad choice from a good choice and prove it on a daily basis through making time for our “self-care yes’s” (i.e. Meditation. Yoga. Green juice. Brushing and flossing.).  We also know that any real friend is not going to hate us—or even be majorly hurt— by one dismissed Boozy Tuesday invite (disclaimer: if your friends would desert you over a similarly small offense, you need new friends). Choice A is the choice supported by this direct evidence, and yet Choice A is sometimes hard AF to make.

Why? Because people-pleasing is so damn tempting. We all want to fit in and be liked. We don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings and we want to avoid conflict at all costs. And when it comes to work-life, we’ve been programmed—at least subconsciously—not to go against authority, thinking that we have to be “yes (wo)men”  in order to succeed and be praised and promoted. Saying “no” can even make us question our own identities. Can I say no and still call myself a supportive friend? A rockstar employee and a good person? The answer to that is HELL YES!

Warren Buffett, who knows a thing or two about living powerfully, is a fan of the “slow yes and the quick no.” For most of us, going straight to no feels drastic—even scary. So instead, try making your default answer, “can I get back to you in ____ {fill in a reasonable amount of time},” instead of an automatic “yeah, sure.” This will give you time to sit with the request, take a deep breath and then respond. If you feel any hesitation whatsoever that is your gut/intuition/spirit guides telling you the answer is a no. When you repeatedly say yes when you want to say no, it doesn’t make you a better friend, employee or person. It makes you resentful, overcommitted, bitter and burnt out. And who wants another friend/employee/human being walking the planet like that?

It’s time to reclaim and celebrate our No’s! Every time you say no to an unnecessary and unwanted request you are saying YES to yourself. You clear out the crap that encumbers your calendar and gifts yourself more time/space to do what you truly want. This is the ultimate in self-care mastery and more valuable than any single skin-care routine could ever be. If I say no to joining my friend’s book club, I’ll have time to say YES to the books I really want to read. If I say no to dog-sitting my friend’s poodle, I’ll save a ton of time scooping poop and vacuuming fur off of my couch and use that time to learn to play the guitar, or write the next great American novel, or simply nap. If I say no to Tuesday drinks, I’ll be able to sleep, prepare, and primp for my Friday presentation that will be the catalyst to my eventual world domination. Can you imagine if you had traded world domination for Tequila Tuesday? Hell NO!

Let’s practice this together:

Friend: “Ugh, I need you. Drinks, 7:30 pm!”

Your Empowered-Ass Self: “I can’t tonight. However, Friday, let’s get drinks to celebrate the promotion I’ll definitely be getting after my presentation. First round on me!”

Friend: “Sweet! I could use a good night’s sleep tonight anyway.”

See? Not only was saying no easy and empowering, but it also ruffled NO feathers and led to your friend getting her eight hours of sleep as well. That friend probably woke up the next day to five missed texts from the boy who is now desperately in love with her (“she’s so aloof… not like other girls”) and planning to propose.

The moral of the story? Saying no is empowering, freeing, and life-affirming. Saying no is a huge part of having healthy boundaries and an integral piece of your self-care routine. Saying no is—dare I say it—the gateway between you and all you desire. Saying no is not always easy, but with practice and a little patience, “no” will become your secret self-care weapon and can be the key to an intentional, purposeful, passion-filled, and balanced life.

Feature image via stocksy

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