I used to hate the word No.
No, to me, used to signify closed doors and brick walls. It signified cutting the kitestrings of possibility, of burning bridges I would never have the option of walking again.
I spend my life trying to make it bigger, to expand my horizons, to elevate, to connect, to be a giver in this world and not a taker. So it made sense in my head that the ticket to these experiences was the word “yes.”
“Yes” has taken me to some pretty incredible places. “Yes” has taken me halfway across the world. “Yes” has given me insane friendships, mind-blowing experiences and self-confidence in professional contexts, by facing up to challenges I only half-believed I could do until I did it.
‘No’ was not in my vocabulary.
I thought this was the key.
I said yes to pouring my heart into articles in exchange for the non-existent currency of “great exposure” because I thought if I said no, I wasn’t grateful for the opportunity to do what I love.
I said yes to emotionally abusive friendships that kept me up all night, sick with worry for their well being, because I thought this was my purpose on this earth as an empath. To protect. To heal. To give until it hurt.
I sought out the kind of broken men who handed me their pain and their shame I saw it as my responsibility to hold it, to make it my own, so they didn’t have to.
The inability to say no is directly linked to the need to seek approval from others, according to UK psychotherapists. And the psychological cost of saying ‘no’ can be steep, ranging from unhealthy relationships, to anxiety, to depression, lack of personal identity, and burnout.”
Here’s what I’ve learnt lately.
Saying ‘no’ is honouring yourself, your time, and your worth. If you keep letting people taken an arm when you just offered a hand, eventually you’ll have nothing left for yourself.
Saying ‘no’ is telling yourself ‘you are valuable.’ It is being your own warrior. Your own fierce protector.
Because you are so worth protecting. And no one can do it but you.
And if you’re worried about the consequences of saying no; professionally, in your relationships, damn it, even to your hairdresser when she does the exact opposite thing of what you asked… Think about the long-term consequences of constantly putting everyone’s wants before yours. Of constantly reinforcing the message that you are your own last priority.
I have now culled my writing projects to two publications that value both my professional and personal worth. I’ve broken up with friends that have been an open, aching, constant wound for years, just because I believed I could one day heal them. I’ve started to only accept the kind of love that makes me feel awake and alive and where there’s an equal energetic exchange on all fronts. I’ve realised its not my job to be someone’s cup to pour all their pain and shadows into just because I tend to feel the emotions of those around me deeply.
Don’t burn out your fire on people who take a whole arm when you offer them a hand.
It is not being selfish.
It is not being negative.
It is exercising your God-given right to push away anyone who makes a mockery of your energy, your time, and your soul.
How can you love, nurture, create, inspire… when your energy levels have bottomed out and the world has become one grey sky and a sea of outstretched, waiting hands?
Practice it now. Feel the weight of it on your tongue. Feel the immense power it projects as it rolls from your throat.
I honour myself. My time. My worth. I don’t align with this.