Have you ever said “yes” when you mean “no”? Before we get started, I want to share a little something with you. Yesterday morning my daughter came to me and asked if she could create a painting room in our basement. I told her we could do that by clearing out part of the furnace room for her. This got me thinking about something that happened over the summer. My daughter had taken it upon herself to paint on our driveway. She is very artistic and really likes to create things.
Back when she was younger, she used to do YouTube videos and of course, got into making slime and all that kind of stuff. She has always done these paintings with sidewalk chalk in our driveway and has created some really cool designs. So, when she came to me one night this past summer asking if she could paint the driveway, I really wasn’t paying attention. I thought she was talking about sidewalk chalk; not a problem. Well, little did I know that she was actually going to “paint” on the driveway with her acrylic paints. When it was done, she had created this permanent painting on the driveway. When I first looked at it, I got a little upset because it was permanent paint; It wasn’t going to go away.
But then I really looked at it…
Man, this thing is cool! It made me think what a blessing it was because it was really an awesome design. Maybe I’m a little biased because it’s my daughter but I really thought what an amazing expression of creativity it was. That’s what I think right now, creativity really seems to be missing today, especially in our kids. There’s just so much playing on video games, iPhones, iPads, and tablets instead of going outside where they have to use their creativity and imagination to entertain themselves. I think our society is starting to lose its ability to express themselves, create, and communicate effectively.
Everything is so focused on our devices that many of us don’t talk with our friends and anymore. It’s a shame but it’s not too for any of us. I would challenge you to take time today to sit down with your family. Talk to them about anything; Just communicate and then go outside. Be creative, come up with something fun to do that doesn’t involve your devices. I guarantee if you do that, you’ll be glad you did.
Speaking of communicating…..
Believe it or not, there was a time when I had difficulty saying no. I just wanted to say yes to everything. For many of us, we just want to make everyone happy. It’s going to be Thanksgiving soon and then Christmas. The ability to say no is really important for every person to be able to do. It has a direct impact on your overall health.
Speaking from personal experience….. I just ended up taking on too much and that just creates more problems and stress. Does that sound familiar?
Why is that? How can it affect your health?
Simply put… The word no is nothing more than a boundary about something you don’t want to do, you don’t agree to do, or is not yours to do in the first place.
If that’s the case, why do so many of us have a hard time using that word?
There was an article that came out back in November of 2013 from the Psychology Today Magazine. They discussed the word “no” and the reason why it was a negative word. In the article they stated when you use the word, no, it’s often viewed as slamming a door or window shut. It just cuts you off from others. I think this is how a lot of us see it. We don’t want to cut ourselves off from others, push people away, or push things back. We view the word as being, just that.
The Strength of “No”
But, you see, for most of us, and this was really highlighted in that article, we often fail to see the surge of strength saying no can give us. No is often confused with a negative attitude, but it really doesn’t have to be. The use of the word is actually an affirmation of the self that acknowledges your own personal responsibility.
You see? “No” can be the barrier that establishes and maintains our health. Helps us see we are the agents of our own limits; because let’s face it, we all have limits. There is only so many hours in a day and so many groups you can participate in. There’s only so much work you can take on.
Those of you at an office job….. How many times have you told everybody yes? Then! That work just gets piled on and on. The next thing you know, you’re looking at it and there is no humanly way possible you can get to any of it! Right? Then what happens? How does it make you feel? What happens to you internally?
The problem with this is we have our own fear. There is a fear of what will happen when we say the word, no. You like you have to justify yourself because you’re afraid they won’t like you. Or your afraid it will make them angry and disappointed with you. Maybe you feel like your being mean. So then what happens? We end up saying yes even though we don’t want too. Or you say “maybe” and never get back to them.
How many of you have done that as a way to get out of it? You say maybe and then never address it again.
What does that do to the relationship with that person?
It hurts it.
Here’s why you should learn to let go of those fears and say no more often.
First: I already touched upon it….. You don’t have an infinite store of time and energy. There’s only 24 hours in a day and you should be sleeping eight of those hours. You need to have time for your family and loved ones. Work also requires time out of your day, unless you are retired. It is important to learn how to pick and choose what you can do and what you can’t do.
Second: Some things are more important than others. You can’t say yes to everything that comes your way because you have to prioritize.
Third: Each of us need to set and reset our boundaries. It’s an affirmation of yourself. When you say no, it makes your yes more meaningful. Think about it! If you say yes to everything, eventually it doesn’t carry any weight with it. You want saying yes to carry weight.
I’ll use my kids as an example. They may ask me for a candy bar today and I’ll say no because it’s not good for them. I could just as easily say yes, but it doesn’t mean I should. When I do eventually say yes, their eyes light up. They are like wow, he just said yes! There is power in that.
There’re a few limitless tests I use and you can use too. You should say “no” when it keeps you true to your principles and values or when it keeps you focused on your own goals. When you need the strength to change course; like if you feel yourself getting sucked down a rabbit hole.
How many of you have been on the internet searching for something? You find the link and then realize you have been on the internet for two hours researching something that should have taken you five minute?
You have to be able to tell yourself, no, I’m not going to go down that rabbit hole. I need the strength to stay on course and path that I’m on.
The Biggest one is you should say no when it protects you from harm, danger or abuse. By now you are probably wondering why we are talking about this?
What does this have to do with your health?
Think about the last time you said yes to something when you wanted to say no because it wasn’t something you wanted to do. Did it create stress in your life? Was that stress negative? Many times it is. So many of us are wired to avoid conflict and it becomes this motto, But. that can be more harmful to you than you realize. Although saying yes can avoid conflict, it’s going to create so many bigger problems for you. Taking on too many responsibilities, tasks, or jobs can make you spread yourself too thin. The next thing you know, you’re just running around the room, like a chicken with your heads cut off and transform into a not so nice person.
You start snapping at people because your tired and irritated. That results in increased stress to your body and that increased stress is going to lead to physical problems. We’ve touched upon this in some previous posts on what happens to your body during a stressful time.
The sympathetic nervous system, part of the autonomic nervous system, gets activated. This is your fight or flight response. It gets activated and causes this alarm to go off in your body. In response, your body starts to produce a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone. It has its place and is important, but when cortisol is produced too much, it can have some really negative effects on your health.
Can one word improve your health?
First of all, your heart rate and blood pressure increase. Your muscles start to tighten up and you gain weight. Cortisol causes the body to store more fat. You can’t sleep or relax which lowers your immune system, the pH of the body is lowered and starts to become more acidic. If left uncorrected it can become chronic. The result is a chronic state of inflammation in the body, which then leads to infections, heart disease, stroke, joint, muscle pain, and even early death.
It goes without saying. Time and time again, science has proven mental and psychological stress will manifest as physical problems within the body. Learning how to say no is one of those key skills you have to master in your life to lower your stress levels; Especially during the holidays. Just keep yourself on the straight and narrow.
How can you say no nicely? It can be really tricky. Many times, it’s not what we say, but how we say it that determines how others receive it. I’m going to say that again. It’s not what we say, but how we say it that determines how it is received.
Some suggestions……. Try these responses instead of just saying no.
- I’ll think about it…. Give yourself a little bit of time and pause to evaluate the request that’s being made. Don’t use that response if you’re not going to get back to them. Only use that response if you will think about it and then let them know your decision. You can’t use that just to put off saying no.
- Softer language. Such as, “Hey, I’d prefer not to.” You can say it calmly. One that works well at work is “that’s really not my responsibility.” There are so many other ways to say no gracefully. I’m sure you can think of many of them.
The Holidays are right around the corner and the tendency is to say yes to so many things that oftentimes you really should say no too. Just remember, saying no is not a bad thing to do. In fact, it can save your life.
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As always, I’m going to leave you guys with this really inspiring and thought-provoking quote from author, Josh Billings. He said, “half of the troubles of this life can be traced to saying yes too quickly and not saying no soon enough.”
Until next time. Power Your Life and keep moving forward!